Natural disasters, cyberattacks, or equipment-related outages can cause short-term or long-term downtime, serious damage to a company’s reputation, and loss of data. All this is devastating to giant corporations, as well as to SMBs, which often lack the technical expertise and tools to protect against risk. Crucial failures can even bankrupt small businesses. In the U.S., according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this is the case with 40-60% of small companies.
To prevent such a scenario, experts recommend developing emergency response plans, store critical business information securely, and, most importantly, providing an effective backup plan for documents and data.
IT system failures and outages cannot be completely excluded. After a disaster, services need to be restored as quickly as possible to minimize business losses. To ensure that employees know what to do and that the right measures are taken in time, IT-professionals must develop Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). In this article, we explain how to prepare a disaster recovery plan for small companies, and also give general recommendations on how to restore IT infrastructure.
Partner with a company that offers reliable DRaaS services
Disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) provides continuous replication or storage of critical applications, infrastructure, data and systems (both physical and virtual servers) for rapid recovery from IT failures caused by natural disasters or human intervention. Service provider ensures that the recovery procedure is transferred to the cloud and implements the customer’s recovery plan even when the customer’s infrastructure is completely out of service.
One of the advantages of DRaaS is that applications can be restored and launched quickly. Another advantage is that there is no need to spend money to set up your own remote backup storage, as it is maintained by the DRaaS provider. This is especially necessary for SMBs, which often do not have the resources, money and expertise to develop and implement the recovery procedures.
Establish DRaaS parameters
Since there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, the recovery strategy is directly driven by the needs of the particular company. There are two key indicators for recovery settings:
- Recovery time objective (RTO): this metric defines the acceptable downtime for a program without causing significant damage to the business. For example, a lower RTO is critical for companies that depend on seasonal changes in retail. However, RTO is more than just the time lag between data loss and recovery. Within that period, IT needs to take action to get the information system back up and running on backup equipment or a site;
- Recovery point objective (RPO): this determines the maximum time in which data can be lost due to an incident. For example, the RPO is one hour. This means that if an incident occurs, the enterprise is prepared to recover the system, but no more than the last hour of data will be lost. RPO determines how often the system is backed up. For customer-oriented applications, keeping RPO to a minimum is critical.
By determining the RTO and RPO values, the enterprise can select one of the following data recovery options:
“active-active”. This option is also known as synchronous replication and involves dedicating a separate internal node for synchronous, real-time mirroring of applications and data. In other words, it provides the highest possible RTO by pairing the production and backup clusters, so in the event of a failure, the latter is in full readiness to minimize downtime and data loss.
Advantage: the failover is automatic.
Disadvantage: higher cost, higher complexity;
“active-passive”. This storage option is also known as asynchronous replication, which means that copies of the company’s data are stored separately or in the DRaaS provider’s data center. It allows full redundancy (keeping a working copy) of each node with data. The backup is activated only when the corresponding primary node fails.
Advantage: the maximum possible RTO/RPO values and a cheaper solution.
Disadvantage: high hardware cost, possible data loss.
These storage options can be implemented in the following ways:
- Mixed on-premises/cloud backup storage. Many companies that move to the cloud migrate their infrastructure from on-premises, but to maximize ROI, redesign data centers as backup storage. This storage option is more cost-effective than cloud backup.
- Cloud backup storage. This option saves time, money, and is easy to implement. It can be used to send data backups to a remote secure server from an external provider for immediate restoration if necessary. Cloud backup storage implies high RTP/RPO values, reduced investment on maintaining legacy systems and reduced IT staff effort. However, the process of restoring backups from the cloud is time-consuming and performed manually.
Test disaster recovery scenarios
Disaster recovery is more than just restoring data and maintaining application performance. Whether the company is small, medium or large, it is important to ensure that applications can be restored within the established RTO and RPO and that the staff is ready to respond to incidents. By performing disaster recovery testing, the enterprise will be able to understand whether it is operating within established practices and regulatory norms or if some part of the business process has failed.
Testing allows you to check the effectiveness of your disaster recovery plan. To prevent a disaster from taking the company by surprise, establish close contacts with the DRaaS provider for regular testing of control points. Additionally, a company should have a trained disaster recovery team that is always ready to react quickly to unexpected circumstances. Smart backup technology, reliable DRaaS partner, and a smart disaster recovery strategy are a recipe that will protect your business in any situation.