A backup/disaster recovery plan (BDR) includes the safe storage and retrieval of data to protect against disruptive events. The typical BDR plan includes a strategy to ensure the recovery of data when events such as power surges, natural disasters and sudden equipment failure occur without warning. However, I have found that most BDR plans don’t take the timing of the recovery and the consequences of the delays into consideration. When a server goes offline in the middle of a production run or during an important deadline, company disruption can be widespread.
Many small businesses have an outdated BDR plan along with older technologies that slow data restoration. These BDR strategies don’t include the cost of lost business functions during this delay. Both servers and workstations vital to a business’s functions could potentially be down for hours, days, or even weeks depending on the type of damage and amount of data to recover. If this data is critical to the business a slow recovery could lead to a loss of clients, revenue or–in a worst case scenario–closing the doors for good.
The recovery time objective (RTO) is an important calculation for any business to perform and regularly update. The RTO of a continuity solution is the time needed to restore data and functions to the production environment. Today’s businesses need to develop a RTO plan and then purchase solutions that achieve their RTO objectives by producing a timely data restore–often in minutes, not hours or days.
Business continuity goes beyond traditional backup and recovery because the plan not only prepares a business to recover from a disaster but also protects the business from the negative impacts of the event. Implementing business continuity procedures and the appropriate technology ensures access to critical contacts such as customers, suppliers, managers as well as everything a business needs to function. Business continuity isn’t achieved through a single solution or technology; guidance from key management during the event is also needed.
Business continuity starts with the plans and processes required for a successful and timely recovery. For this reason, businesses must build the strategy on two fronts: planning how to continue business processes in the event of disaster and choosing the appropriate technologies to support these processes.
Virtualization technologies now allow a backup device to be parsed into several virtual subdivisions providing additional servers for continuous operations during disruptions. Business continuity is achieved through an instant on-site device or even an off-site Cloud approach. A complete plan with clearly-defined processes and employees who are trained to respond works well when combined with onsite, offsite and virtualization technology.
Business continuity can play a key role in a robust ransomware protection strategy. An effective ransomware recovery plan requires a three-pronged approach involving education, security and backup. The first line of defense involves well-configured firewalls and security software. The second line of defense is a well-trained staff that understands how to identify malicious emails. But without a well-backed-up network the first two will not provide enough defense to stop malware attacks.
Modern data protection solutions take snapshot-like incremental backups as frequently as every five minutes to create a series of recovery points. If a business suffers a ransomware attack, this technology will permit a data roll-back to before the corruption occurred. When it comes to ransomware, the benefit of this approach is two-fold: first, there is no need to pay the ransom (which can take days to accomplish) and second, because the restored data is from just before the infection it will be uncontaminated. To recover from a ransomware attack, some business continuity options allow businesses to instantly run key software from the backup device in a virtual machine. This method causes little or no downtime which allows operations to continue normally while primary systems are being restored.
For a BDR plan to be effective, it is important to think through every aspect of the process from both the technology and human standpoints. A business that is truly serious about achieving full business continuity will choose a strategy that ensures prompt recovery of key business functions.