We’ve heard the saying: “Expect the unexpected.” But do businesses really take it seriously?
Last October, weathermen cautioned residents in the Dallas area of pending storms, with some anticipated to be rowdy. But none of them expected the fury of nature in the wake of devastation that hit the area.
In a span of 30 minutes, 10 tornadoes broke out in North Texas late Sunday night on October 20, destroying businesses, homes, schools and churches. The National Weather Service confirmed the twisters ranged from EF-1 to EF-3, with the strongest tornado ripping through a densely populated area along a 15-mile path in Dallas, snapping power lines and uprooting trees.
Roughly 104 structures were destroyed, along with 286 buildings incurring major damage and 344 with minor damage. More than 100,000 people were without power. Approximately 300,000 students had to move to different schools in a 36-hour timeframe.
Your biggest enemy after a natural disaster strikes is time. Can your disaster recovery plan restore day-to-day IT operations in a reasonable timeframe?
Here’s a disaster recovery checklist to ensure you can respond rapidly in the event of the unexpected.
- Define your tolerance for downtime and data loss. Know in advance which networks, applications and data are mission critical. Which ones must be restored in a matter of milliseconds vs. those within hours? For example: If you’re a Tier 1 bank with high-transaction applications, you cannot afford a high Recovery Point Objective (RPO). You need a short Recovery Time Objective (RTO) to get your business back up and running full speed. Data types can be assigned to multiple tiers with specific RPO/RTO, personalizing recovery to business-critical data first and restoring non-critical data later.
- Build in redundancies and failovers to reduce downtime. In a typical natural disaster, power lines may be down, buildings flooded, internet connections slowed, or the virtual private network can’t handle the extra workload. Be sure you have multiple layers of WAN connectivity to failover to unimpacted links for smooth network operations. Built-in dynamic traffic orchestration can also make a difference in redirecting struggling traffic connections to a better connection without a session drop.
- Ensure backups are offsite and disconnected. A hosted disaster recovery-as-a-service solution in a cloud environment copies your data in a secure data center disconnected from your network. Backed up data can be stored locally and replicated to an offsite data center or sent directly to the data center from your servers. You can specify recovery for an entire virtual environment or specific end-user systems, cloud applications and enterprise infrastructures.
- Inspect that you can restore data across multiple types of data layers and locations. Your disaster recover should be deployed to and from multiple platforms – on-premises environments, public and private clouds. Check to see if you can recover both the state and data inside hypervisors. Choose the quickest route for recovery – full recovery vs. rebuild – and populate data.
- Review and test your disaster recovery regularly. You’d be surprised how many DR plans are collecting dust on the shelf covering systems five years old when the company was half the size. When it comes to disaster recovery, you’re only as good as your last test! A testing schedule is the single most important part of any DR plan. Remember, a failing test is not a bad thing as it alerts you to problems early rather than finding them during a crisis. It’s important your DR plan is up to date on current systems and have been tested at least once a year. This way you can feel confident your business can fully recover without data loss or problems in the event of a real data disaster.
- Monitor backups to ensure they work. More and more companies are relying on manage service providers to manage and support organizations’ scheduling, alerting and testing process 24/7/365. They can easily failover and back up virtual machines or an entire site, with zero data loss and minimal disruption.
Are you confident your disaster recovery plan can handle the unexpected? We can help. Contact us today to discuss your needs.
About The Author
Mike Penn joined Magna5 as Senior Content Developer. His role is to bring to life stories that inspire or inject clarity in how managed services and emerging trends can be applied to help organizations operate better and more efficiently.