Tips For IT Disaster Recovery

IT disasters come with big costs. As noted by Fortune, experts can’t even agree on how much companies will lose if data is compromised; some experts say the average cost is more than $200 per record, while others claim it’s just under 60 cents.

Andrew Lerner of research firm Gartner turns this into more actionable insight: The average enterprise loses between $140,000 and $540,000 per hour during a network failure. Fortunately, it’s possible to limit the chance of this worst-case scenario by leveraging the cloud; here are five tips to help companies hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Plan to Fail

The first step on the road to better disaster recovery? Create a plan. IT leaders need to sit down with C-suite executives and take a hard look at what it means if records are compromised, networks fail or servers go completely offline. Once this impact assessment is complete, the next step is devising a disaster recovery (DR) plan. According to InfoSecToday, companies need to identify which systems are most critical to operations, for example, email, applications or database access, and then design a DR plan that focuses on restoring these systems as quickly as possible.

Fail the Test

Next up? Fail your test. Find a reliable cloud DR provider and then simulate a disaster scenario to see what happens. With data safely in the cloud, there’s no real risk for day-to-day operations, but companies get the chance to see their recovery plan in action. This serves two purposes: First, it helps employees and end users not to panic in the event of a real emergency, and it lets IT experts find any weak spots in a DR plan. Better to correct these during a dry run than when the storm really hits.

Test Your Data

It’s also important to ensure that your data is stored safely and securely in the cloud if a disaster occurs, according to Tech Target. This means making a full copy of all critical information on cloud servers and testing it for speed of access, security and regulatory compliance. Your DR provider should be able to offer on-demand access to data, day or night, along with enforcing strict access requirements. If possible, opt for two-factor authentication, which requires users to posses not only a password but also a physical token such as a fob or USB key. Finally, ensure that all data stored meets regulatory requirements.

This is especially critical if your company deals with medical records, legal documents or financial information, since compliance agencies require an auditable trail that shows the continuity of data even in times of disaster. If companies can’t provide this information they could face significant penalties; PCI DSS non-compliance costs up to $25,000 for the first violation by Level 1 and 2 merchants.

Data Delivery

How quickly can you get back up and running? This is one key benefit of the cloud; the right provider can either act as a surrogate computing system during your period of disaster recovery or “hot swap” your data onto the local stacks of your choice. The ideal DR solution should allow your company to port any data backed up in the cloud or other secure storage facilities to the server of your choice in two hours or less.  Ideally, your recovery time objective (RTO) should be quick enough to avoid any costs incurred as a result of system downtime.

Delivering Peace of Mind

As noted above, it’s critical to find the right provider to deliver peace of mind in times of disaster. RCP Mag notes that 52 percent of companies surveyed said that they would consider adding some form of DRaaS; as a result, there are now a host of providers for companies to choose. To ensure your data is well handled and your cloud backups are always secure, it’s critical to create a strong, specific service level agreement (SLA) that spells out provider and client responsibilities for disaster recovery. By establishing this solid base from the very beginning it’s possible to build a robust, cloud-based DR solution.

Want better DR? Consider the cloud. Plan your failure, test the impact, secure your data, determine your speed and make sure your SLA is up to snuff.