Many businesses make the grave mistake of thinking about building a capable disaster-recovery plan when it’s already too late. While no one is saying it’s easy to be prepared for any eventuality, it’s never too soon to start thinking about the potential dangers that face your business. In an age when digital data is the most important asset in most modern businesses, a disaster-recovery plan should help minimize the adverse effects of any unexpected downtime. After all, even just an hour of unscheduled downtime costs the average small business $8,000, according to the Aberdeen Group. Here are some of the most important elements that any disaster-recovery plan should incorporate:
Having redundant data-storage systems on-site is an obvious first step for storing your company’s important information, but it’s far from the whole story. Consider, for example, what would happen should disaster strike your business premises, taking your entire IT infrastructure along with it. Fortunately, cloud-based services offer a location-independent backup solution that safeguards your data no matter what happens to your on-site infrastructure. A cloud-based infrastructure provides you with something to fall back on while also helping to address many important security and convenience concerns.
The ability to work effectively as a team is important for any everyday business routine, but this goes doubly true when it comes to handling an unexpected downtime. Your team needs to be able to communicate effectively should the worst happen, so it’s important to know whom to call when an issue arises. You’ll also want to keep a list of third-party emergency contacts, including those for your ISP, any cloud service providers you use, and any other vendors that your business relies on. All team members should also have a clearly defined role, but it’s even more important that they’re familiar with that role so they can act quickly.
Even the best disaster-recovery plans cannot prepare for absolutely any eventuality. As such, it’s important to define your business’s tolerance levels for any (probably) inevitable downtime or data loss that might occur. Of course, downtime tolerance levels concerning IT infrastructure can vary greatly from one business to the next. For example, a traditional high-street business might not suffer too severely from a few hours of unexpected outage, but for a purely web-based business, even just a few minutes of downtime can lead to a multitude of lost customers and increased support requests.
A lot of businesses automatically associate a disaster-response plan with their IT systems, but there’s more to think about than data and IT infrastructure alone. You’ll also need to know exactly how to handle your employees and other resources should the worst happen. This may include allocating a backup site should your premises become unavailable, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open so your staff know where to go and what to do. Your plan might, for example, allow employees to temporarily work off-site or even at home. Nonetheless, you’ll still need to be able to provide them with the tools they need to do their job. Any backup workspace will also need to meet your company’s privacy and security protocols.
Many SMBs outsource a lot of their IT requirements to third parties, which potentially provides a great backup when things go wrong. After all, if the data and apps you rely on to run your business are hosted off-site, you should have an effective contingency in place already. However, you’ll need to be sure that your SLAs themselves include disaster- and emergency-response protocols. Any reputable cloud service provider should be able to provide a legally binding agreement that defines the level of service they offer during a disaster. In other words, they need to be committed to resolving any issues concerning the products or services they offer within a given timespan.
A disaster-response plan is likely to be effective only if it’s audited regularly and considers your current infrastructure. In fact, if you’re not regularly auditing and testing your plan, you might as well not have one at all. Perhaps, for example, your current internet connection is too slow to restore data stored on a cloud backup service. If this is the case, then you’ll need to consider your options in your plan. Although there’s no rule regarding how often you should test and audit your plan, it’s generally advisable to do so at least once per year and every time you make significant changes to your business.
It’s always good to be two steps ahead, so that’s why Dyrand Systems offers a powerful backup and disaster recovery service. Download our brochure or give us a call today to find out how we can help your business prepare for the worst.