How quickly would your business be able to recover from a disaster? How do you know? How long can your business function with critical IT systems down before financial losses start to occur?
Unfortunately, too many organizations are unable to answer these questions. Even if a backup solution is in place, often times it has never been tested through a Disaster Recovery Simulation.
Where to start?
Before simply purchasing the cheapest, newest, or most recommended backup software or appliance, you need to know what your company’s unique requirements are. This process is called a Business Impact Analysis (BIA), during which your organization will be assessed to determine how your business would be impacted by a major disaster, not just financially, but from the perspective of productivity, employee morale, and corporate repuation. After a BIA is performed, certain key Business Continuity metrics will be identified, namely Recovery Time Objective (RTO), Recovery Point Objective (RPO), and Work Recovery Time (WRT).
Measuring your Needs
Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the amount of time your business can afford to maintain an outage for each key application or functionality. Not all applications are created equal. For example, if you are a small manufacturing company, maybe your email can only be down for 30 minutes, but your website could be down for a week. On the other hand, a recruiting firm could likely only handle an outage of less than 15 minutes for both before negative impacts are experienced.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the target maximum data loss for each key application for functionality. Using the same example above, maybe your company’s website is only changed every few months. In that case, you could probably afford losing a month or more of data. However, losing an hour of email could cause your business to lose money due to lost orders or customer communication.
Work Recovery Time (WRT) is an often overlooked part of Business Continuity, and is the amount of work required by your staff to get your system functioning as needed. By overlooking and not testing this piece, you may assume that you can recover in 5 minutes, as that is how long it takes to restore for your particular backup software. However, that might not factor in dependencies or manual processes that are required for certain applications, or the increased load required in restoring multiple servers or applications simultaneously.
Testing your Process
By scheduling regular Disaster Recovery simulations, you are able to validate your Business Continuity metrics, identify pain points, and increase your teams’ familiarity with the recovery process. Additionally, this simulation offers an opportunity to confirm that validity of your backup media. Once your team is familiar with the process, and makes regular tweaks to that process, they are often able to shorten their response time, decreasing the Work Recovery Time.
By properly validating your business needs, implementing the appropriate system, and testing it on a regular basis, you are protecting your business from the real threat of data loss. Without having previously tested the recovery process, your team is more likely to make mistakes through both unfamiliarity and nerves. Being familiar with the process enables them to more accurately, precisely, and efficiently move through the required recovery procedure.