There are numerous misconceptions about disaster recovery strategy in modern business. For some, they believe that it would be too expensive to construct a disaster recovery plan. Others mistake their backup strategy for a disaster recovery strategy. However, the worst misconception is that businesses today do not need a disaster recovery strategy at all. In truth, constructing your plan is likely less expensive, simpler, and more valuable than you might expect. You just need a clear plan and an understanding of what is required.
The Disaster Recovery Strategy Infographic
Below, we’ve constructed an infographic that breaks down a few of the key concepts in disaster recovery strategy. Fundamentally, anyone attempting to design their strategy needs to understand what disaster recovery is and how it differs from a backup strategy. Data backup is an important component of disaster recovery, but it requires a much broader understanding of how to restore your IT environment should a disaster occur.
Assigning Application Priority
The reason some companies have a misconception about the cost of disaster recovery solutions is because their priorities are in the wrong place. When a disaster strikes and your entire IT infrastructure is disabled, the goal is not to overcome the disaster with no interruption in service. That would require you to maintain a complete duplicate of your environment in the cloud or a colocation and fail over instantly. That is certainly possible, but it is inordinately expensive to maintain. The goal is much more primal. The goal is to survive.
To survive, you need to make hard choices. What applications are essential to your business’s survival? Those mission-critical applications are the ones that will require the lowest Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO), while less essential applications can take a momentary backseat. You have a limited amount of resources and time at your disposal. If this was a triage center, what do you save first?
For example, if your business is an online ecommerce marketplace, your webhosting server is crucial to your business survival. It’s where your website lives, and without it, you have no website. At the same time, your internal payroll systems are less important. Employee paychecks might end up a few days late, but the business will carry on. You need to arrange all your applications in a hierarchy using this lens.
RTO and RPO Explained:
- Recovery Time Objective: RTO indicates the maximum amount of time that can elapse after a disaster incident before that particular application is back online. For example, if your voice systems have an RTO of fifteen minutes, they must be back online and functioning within fifteen minutes of losing connection.
- Recovery Point Objective: RPO refers to the gap of data lost when restoring backups. For example, an RPO of three days would restore a copy of the data that was made at most three days before the incident, while an RPO of one second would recover a copy saved only a moment ago. Your RPO will determine how frequently you need to create backup copies of your environment. Continuing with those same examples, that environment would be creating, saving, and storing new backups every few days for the former and every second of every day for the latter in order to meet their RPO.
The final component of a disaster recovery strategy that must be considered is testing. If your solution isn’t tested, it’s not worth anything. Remember, in the event of a disaster, you have limited resources and personnel at your disposal, and every second that ticks by costs the business money. There is no time for the team to be figuring out how to enact the disaster recovery plan. Worse yet, the plan itself could be flawed. You must test your plan, and you must test it regularly.
Disaster Recovery as a Strategy
Every disaster recovery plan will look different, but there are some common threads linking them all. In this infographic, we try to highlight some of those threads. You must have a backup and a disaster recovery strategy. You must set RTOs and RPOs for every application, and your backup solution needs to meet certain criteria to be effective. Though misconceptions may exist about disaster recovery, dispelling them can be done with a clear direct message.
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