Business Continuity and high availability are no longer terms that are just being used by the enterprise market. Small and Medium sized businesses are finding it critical to adopt these same practices, not only to survive but for future growth. The reality of the situation is that a lot of these businesses are ill prepared and not equipped to recover from an IT disaster.
Having a data backup solution often provides business owners and CEO’s a false sense of security when it comes to their data. Assuming that the data is in fact retrievable, their understanding of how long it takes to recover from a disaster is usually far different than their IT Solution can provide. This misunderstanding can be catastrophic to the survival of a company while they are trying to restore services.
Designing a Disaster Recovery Plan that is customized to your business will help your business be prepared for any type of disaster scenario. There is no one way to design such a plan, but there are several key ingredients that should be considered when creating it:
1.Think beyond your data. Design your backup solution with the services your network provides in mind. Think about it, when your email goes down, do your users say I can’t access my data or do they say my email is not working? When your accounting system goes down do they complain they can’t access their data or that they aren’t able to process payroll? Building the right backup solution up front is critical for your Disaster Recovery Plan.
2. Plan for the worst. The plan should consider all types of disasters and have contingencies for those situations. Emphasis should be placed on rating services in order of their importance. For example: Internet Access would be considered a critical service and a higher priority to restore than printer services. By categorizing, your organization can build an IT solution that provides high availability to your most critical services.
3. Set the right expectations. Service Level Agreements both internally and with vendors is key to the success of a Disaster Recovery Plan. There should be a pre-planned course of action for every type of scenario with estimated times for resolution. Communicating these SLA’s to the organization will save a lot of heartache.
4. Test Regularly. This biggest mistake a business can make is to implement a backup solution or plan and not have controls in place for regular testing. Nothing can be worse than investing a large amount of money in a solution that fails you when you most need it. Create a schedule to test the validity of your Disaster Recovery Solution and hold your vendors to the same standards.
You do not have to have the resources of a large corporation to survive for a network disaster. Your best defense is when your technology meets your planning and preparation.