Disaster recovery is a critical part of any business operation, but it rarely gets the attention it deserves until it’s too late.
It’s difficult to measure the ROI of a disaster recovery solution because it’s a precautionary feature that ideally would never need to be used. However, as businesses progress further into their digital transformation roadmaps, disaster recovery is slowly beginning to climb up the agenda in boardrooms around the world.
There are a number of reasons businesses should be considering their disaster recovery options in 2021. The pandemic and its fallout have left businesses more reliant on their online infrastructure than ever before. But the rapid acceleration of digital transformation has also left organizations more vulnerable, with incidents of phishing and ransomware attacks increasing more than 63 percent during the pandemic. If the pandemic and a related spike in cybercrime weren’t enough to contend with, fires, floods, storms and earthquakes can all be enough to bring a business to its knees if it doesn’t have a proper disaster recovery solution in place. Knocking hundreds of websites and online services offline and rendering many internal back-ups non-recoverable, the fire at OVHcloud’s data center in Strasbourg perfectly highlights the dangerous vulnerability of simply having onsite back-ups — or no disaster recovery strategy at all.
Businesses are slowly beginning to realize that having a disaster recovery solution in place is no longer optional, but an integral part of day-to-day business operations. Just one hour of downtime can cost a small business $8,000 or a medium business $700,000. When you consider the average ransomware attack leads to around 16 days of downtime, the financial impact becomes devastating. This is perfectly avoidable with a disaster recovery plan that will keep systems active and websites online in the event of an attack or natural disaster.
We know disaster recovery solutions are essential for businesses of all shapes and sizes, but how do business leaders know which disaster recovery solution is right for them? Just like any market, the disaster recovery sector has hundreds of options to choose from, many with different levels and tiers of back-up protection. Here are three things business leaders ought to know before they choose a specific disaster recovery specialist.
Not All Disaster Recovery Solutions Are Created Equal
Disaster recovery plans come in many shapes. Some plans, for instance, involve setting up a secondary data center where back-ups can be stored. These are known as “cold sites” because they’re not backed up in real time. Instead back-ups are incremental, so changes to sites and applications are saved periodically, allowing your business to effectively boot up the cold-site on demand following a disaster and tap into the latest saved state.
This suits businesses with tighter budgets as you’re not juggling two live sites at any one time. A “hot site” plan is similar, but back-ups are kept in real time, and the back-up server will remain active and ready to use immediately in the event of a disaster. This is a more robust and airtight solution, but it is obviously more expensive.
Most businesses, however, will be looking exclusively at virtual disaster recovery as the most affordable and flexible option. This approach will create a virtual working replica of your entire computing environment — including servers, storage, operating systems, apps and data in the form of virtual machines (VMs) that can run on any remote work station. That means that, if a ransomware attack occurs, your IT team can simply launch a VM while they deal with the issue to allow your employees to carry on working as if nothing happened.
Distance, Climate and Connectivity Are Crucial Considerations
Your disaster recovery services provider should factor all of this in when choosing a back-up site, but it’s still worth asking the right questions. Naturally, your disaster recovery site should be far enough away from your headquarters that it will be unaffected by geographic disasters like earthquakes or floods.
This is made much easier thanks to remote management capabilities, but it can be difficult to set up if your business uses an active architecture that requires ultra-low latency. Another small but significant consideration is climate: Running costs are likely to be much higher in hotter climates due to cooling costs, which may influence which disaster recovery supplier you partner with.
Scalability and the Cost of Ownership
While one disaster recovery solution might suit your business needs today, your business might outgrow them tomorrow. It’s therefore important to choose a solution that’s scalable and flexible, especially if you’re shopping for cloud capabilities. A disaster recovery solution that does not scale as your business expands can lead to all kinds of complications such as the need for additional licenses, lack of functionality, and exceeding the limits of what you can back up in terms of data. A business should never be put in the position of having to choose what data to back up and what data to risk when it comes to growing with a disaster recovery solution.
Disaster recovery and back-up solutions should be core to any digital transformation strategy. With the number of environmental risks and bad-actor events increasing each year — underlined by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic — businesses would do well to consider their disaster recovery options as early as possible to safeguard their future and facilitate their growth.