The majority of businesses have disaster recovery (DR) plans that don’t work when disaster strikes. That’s one of several dismaying conclusions of the 2014 Annual Report of the Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council, which surveyed 243 organizations worldwide about disaster experiences. Thirty six percent had no test plan in place when a disaster occurred, and an additional 32 percent realized that existing plans were not entirely useful.
Ignoring DR planning is clearly not an option. IT disasters occur with alarming regularity. Best-in-class organizations plan for them, with the objective of absorbing unanticipated incidents without any downtime or disruption.
Achieving that level of business resilience is not an easy task, as the real-world DRP Council report illustrates. That’s why most organizations will need the help of an experienced DR cloud partner. The right partner adds enormous value to preparing for the unexpected.
1. Flexibility, Scalability and Bandwidth
Putting DR in the cloud lets you rapidly create a robust recovery solution without having to build a new physical site or to repair an existing solution. Instead, production systems and data are continuously replicated in the cloud with just minor adjustments to your existing environment. A top-tier cloud provider who can supply replication bandwidth of 5 Mbps or better ensures that you continue to enjoy optimum computing performance with enormous peace of mind.
Unlike traditional backup, the location of a disaster becomes immaterial with a cloud-based DR solution: the cloud is everywhere. Even if a disaster covers a large geographic region, the cloud provider’s centers are beyond reach. Your cloud partner works with you to provision enough cloud resources to replicate, test and – yes – fail over your entire production environment, typically within minutes of an identified incident.
2. Better, Faster People
The DRP report states, “Many organizations today still struggle with assembling the skills, time or money to adequately plan and test their DR preparedness.” That’s no reflection on your IT staff: you’ve deliberately hired people to help support and grow your business, not to become experts in the moving target of DR. Frankly, there’s no point diverting them from their business-specific assignments.
Your DR cloud partner’s staff, however, are already trained in every dimensions of DR design, preparation, testing and execution. That staff is available 24/7/365 to run middle-of-the-night failover tests (without complaining) and to efficiently respond to any actual incident. Look for a provider who also offers :
- Automated site monitoring
- Automated traffic redirection of all resources needed to switch to the recovery site during a crisis
- Dependable follow-through on all details of the recovery plan, such as DNS updates and system configuration adjustments.
3. Test, Test, Test
Disturbingly, about one-third of organizations test their DR environment as infrequently as once or twice a year. In fact, about a quarter never test at all, according to the DRP Council Annual Report. Imagine if that was how often you tested your car’s brakes!
DR is only effective if you can rely on it to work today, with the accumulated patches, changes and modifications of today’s production environment. Designing a test plan, then conducting the tests until they are satisfactory, is not a job for the inexperienced. Your DR partner can make a huge impact both by collaborating on the test plan and by executing the bulk of the testing. The fact that your provider is in the cloud makes the test that much more realistic: they don’t have access to in-house resources which could be unavailable in an actual disaster.
Look for your partner to provision all the computing resources needed to run the failover test – the sort of peak demand that’s a simple matter in the cloud. You can also expect experienced staff to perform the majority of the test and provide expert feedback.
One more caution that should be obvious, but evidently isn’t. The DRP report discovered that fully 65 percent of organizations failed their own tests, and a quarter of those never re-tested. See the flaw here? If you can’t get it right in rehearsal, the show is going to be a tragedy on opening night.
4. Documentation and Best Practices
Under pressure, it’s easy to forget small but crucial details. That’s why it’s essential (and sometimes legally required) to have clear, accurate documentation of how to execute a valid test and how to respond to an actual incident.
Yet more than 60 percent of those in the DRP report admit that they do not have a completely documented DR plan, and many disclose that their existing plans turned out to be flawed in practice. Let’s hope your organization isn’t one of those.
A well-designed DR plan needs take many factors into account. It’s serious work. Managed services from your DR cloud partner can keep you honest and your documentation up to date. They’ll help document all details of the process so that it can be used by anyone: your own staff or your partner’s.
Increasingly, organizations are subject to regulations that require DR plans, documentation, incident reporting and even compliance audits.
PCI and HIPAA compliant cloud is seamlessly part of the full Peak 10 cloud offering, meaning you can rely on the security controls and documented process to comply with the respective regulatory obligations. Expect your DR partner to provide a pathway to compliance.
Hoping that disasters won’t strike your organization is hiding your head in the sand. The right place for your head is in the cloud. A strong DR cloud partner can keep your head above water, even when disaster strikes.