Driven by high-profile cyber attacks and data losses, disaster recovery has become common parlance for businesses all over the world. But this hasn’t always been the case. Disaster recovery has undergone decades of evolution to reach its current state and there is plenty of development still to come.
The rise of digital technologies also led to the rise of technological failures. Prior to this, the majority of businesses held paper records, which although susceptible to fire and theft, didn’t depend on reliable IT infrastructure. As businesses began to embrace the mobility and storage benefits of digital tech, they became more aware of the potential disruption caused by technology downtime. The 1970s saw the emergence of the first dedicated disaster recovery firms.
These early firms came in three forms: hot, warm and cold sites. Hot sites duplicate a company’s entire infrastructure, allowing them to continue working immediately when disaster hits. Understandably, however, these sites are extremely expensive. Warm sites, on the other hand, only allow some of the core processes to be resumed immediately. Cold sites do not allow the immediate resumption of any services, but they do provide an alternative space in the event of a disaster striking the main office.
Regulations are introduced in the US in 1983 stipulating that national banks must have a testable backup plan. Other industry verticals soon followed suit, driving further growth within disaster recovery businesses.
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The development of three-tier architecture separated data from the application layer and user interface. This made data maintenance and backup a far easier process.
The 11th September attacks on the World Trade Centres has a profound impact on disaster recovery strategy both in the US and abroad. Following the atrocity, businesses placed greater emphasis on being able to react and recover quickly in the event of unexpected disruption.
In particular, businesses looked to ensure that their critical processes and external communications could be recovered, both for altruistic and competitive reasons.
Server virtualisation makes the recovery from a disaster a much faster process. With traditional tape systems, complete restoration can take days, but virtualised servers can be restored in a matter of hours because businesses no longer need to rebuild operating systems, servers and applications separately.
With server virtualisation, the ability to switch processes to a redundant or standby server when the primary asset fails is also an effective method for mitigating disruption.
The rise of cloud computing has allowed businesses to outsource their disaster recovery plans, also known as disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). As with other cloud services, this provides a number of benefits in terms of flexibility, recovery times and cost.
DRaaS is also easily scalable should businesses expand and usually less resource intensive, as the cloud vendor, or MSP, will allocate the IT infrastructure, time and expertise to ensuring your disaster recovery plan is implemented properly.
Now recovery isn’t about back-up and standby servers, but about Virtual Machines and data sets, that may have been replicated within minutes of the production systems and can be running as the live system within minutes. What was once a solution for only the largest organisations with the deepest pockets is now available for all.
However, along with the improved offerings such as DRaaS that new technologies offer, comes new types of threat. With employees connected to both the internet and corporate systems, companies will see an increase in demands from Auditors and Insurance Companies to protect against developing threats such as ransomware, which is now being targeted at company servers in addition to the desktop.
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The recognition by all organisations of the importance of maintaining Business Continuity and having a credible Disaster Recovery plan, is reflected in the growth forecast for the sector, with the DRaaS market predicted to be worth $6.4 billion by 2020.
Find more information about DRaaS here.