What would happen if your business were the victim of a disaster that shuts down your IT? Could you recover? What would it cost you?
The following five steps will help you not only create an IT disaster recovery plan (which minimizes your risk and prepares you for recovery), but we’ll also look at what types of costs are involved if you don’t have an effective plan in place.
#1: Define the Disasters You Need to Plan For
While there are some disasters that can affect any business, such as a power outage or loss of Internet, some disasters are unique to location. Extreme weather can occur everywhere – but the specifics of the disaster and the resulting damage can vary. Floods, fires, tornados, heavy rain and damaging winds are just a few of the disasters that could put your business at risk. You’ll need to identify which pose a threat to your company – and then plan accordingly (which I’ll get to next).
Don’t limit yourself to natural disasters either. A disaster recovery plan should address any catastrophe that puts your business out of production. Data loss, for example, is an extremely important threat to consider.
#2: Understand Your Tolerance for Downtime
How long can your business operate without a properly functioning IT environment? Not at all? A half hour? 1 day?
Downtime is costly. Research shows that 85% of companies that experience a disaster go out of business. While any company's true cost of downtime varies by industry, company size, etc., the average cost is $5,600 per MINUTE! That’s $336,000 an hour. With those numbers, it’s not hard to understand why many businesses fail to recover from a disaster.
This action-item serves a two-fold purpose. First, it helps you understand how quickly you need to be able to get back up and running (this will be essential in step #4). Second, it helps justify the expense of defining and implementing a disaster recovery plan. Being proactive is much more cost-effective than reacting to the damage of a disaster.
#3: Anticipate the Effects of the Disaster
Each disaster has specific effects on your business. Prior to defining your IT disaster recovery plan, list the effects of each disaster you identified in step #1. What will happen in all areas of your business? Make note of the items that need to be addressed.
#4: Build in Redundancies and Safety Nets
Now it’s time to define and implement. I highly recommend working with a trusted advisor for this step. Their expertise and outside perspective of your organization will pay dividends in the long run. A trusted advisor, Marco or any other experienced IT provider, can review your findings in steps 1-3, evaluate your needs and recommend a solution. If you choose to proceed with their solution, they also can provide the technology needed to put it into action. It’s sort of a one-stop-shop for your IT disaster recovery needs.
Some of the common technologies used to prevent threats or prepare you to recover from one include:
- Server redundancies, which allow your network to remain up and running even if one server goes down
- Redundant switches, which can spread traffic across multiple servers, and even make changes on the fly to allow one server to pick up the slack for another that goes offline
- Dual power supplies, which allow you to avoid disruptions caused by issues with the local power grid
- Virtualization solutions, which can move many of your IT platforms off-site altogether
- Backup solutions, that provide system recovery quickly in the case of data loss
#5: Create and Implement Policies to Address Disaster Situations
Knowledge is a vital weapon in the fight against IT disasters. By creating effective policies that address specific disaster situations, and disseminating that information to your employees, you can better prepare the company for any possible IT downtime.
When I work with organizations, my first step for them is to simply start a plan - just write something down. That is generally the first step that is needed to kick start the process. From there, the rest of the pieces fall into place nicely.
Let us know if we can help in any way.