How to Avoid Downtime with a Proper Disaster Recovery Plan

    March 31 was World Backup Day – a day meant not just to prompt individuals to take a moment to back up their personal data, but for organizations as well to consider their backup plans. These days, having a backup plan is not just a nice-to-have, but a must-have for any organization regardless of size. While World Backup Day sheds light on the importance of making sure data is properly cared for, it is critical that organizations take a moment to contemplate their disaster recovery (DR) plans (and whether they have one) in order to ensure business continuity should a disaster – natural or otherwise – occur.

    A recent Wall Street Journal article references some not-so-encouraging statistics related to disaster recovery preparedness: “A survey of C-suite-level IT pros at mid-sized companies in finance, life sciences manufacturing and technology sectors by data recovery and protection firm NTT Communications found half the businesses don’t have a documented business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR) plan — and of the half that do, 23% said their organizations have never tested those plans. Ninety percent of respondents said their companies spend 5% or less of their annual IT budget on disaster recovery planning.”

    According to Connectria Hosting, one of the most important pieces of information to impart, to any company, is that data backup and disaster recovery services are, most definitely, not the same. While these services may sound similar, it is crucial that a company does not make the mistake of believing that their routine backup operations have them covered in the event of an outage or disaster.

    The best way to illustrate this difference is to start with the basics – what are the differences between ‘backup’ and ‘disaster recovery’ – before delving into a few ways companies can work with their disaster recovery provider to ensure they are prepared for every type of event, while downtime is minimized or eliminated altogether.

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    Is Your Data Protected from Disaster?

    Click through for the differences between data backup and disaster recovery options, as well as a few tips to help ensure your data is ready for any type of downtime event, as identified by Connectria Hosting.

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    The Basics: Backup as a Service

    Simply put, backup as a service is the regularly scheduled process of copying your data/files to removable media. This can be through a tape backup, a secondary computer or a cloud-hosted backup solution. It is important to have a backup solution in place as it protects your data in case of theft or lost company property (e.g., leaving a laptop behind in a cab), employee accidents (e.g., deletion of files) or technical issues (e.g., hardware failure). With backups, companies can access copies of their data/files and restore them easily should any of the above incidents arise.

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    The Basics: Disaster Recovery as a Service

    An easy way to look at a disaster recovery (DR) solution is that it is similar to a backup service, but not only is the data copied off site, the compute requirements (hardware, operating systems, subsystems, applications, etc.) are duplicated in a manner that will allow them to be used in the event of a disaster as well. For example: A declared “disaster” can be your entire network crashing, bringing down your customer-facing website. With a disaster recovery plan, your website, applications and databases can be switched over with minimal interruption. Your IT department can address the issue while your business is able to operate as usual.

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    The Plan: Define Recovery Targets

    Work with your provider to define application recovery targets of zero or greater. Then, work closely with them to customize the appropriate environment to meet those requirements. This may range from dedicated servers in a high-availability environment, with automatic failover to a number of other replication methods including software, SAN, and data switch with defined recovery targets and objectives (e.g., hot stand-by, warm stand-by).

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    The Plan: Identify Data Migration and Replication Requirements

    Look at and understand your data migration needs and options. Work with your provider to determine the best near real-time replication solution, such as a database replication system that takes logs from a relational database and replicates them from your production system(s).

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    The Plan: Ensure Network Integration

    Make sure you have a network infrastructure that can integrate your IT environment into your provider’s reliable and secure data center quickly and cost-effectively.

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    Understand and Demand Support Services

    Ask questions. Ensure your provider can deliver 24/7 system monitoring, daily backup, recovery services and operational monitoring of your servers. Do they provide: monitoring of communication links, enterprise backup facility, secure data center facilities and managed firewall services?

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