Disaster Recovery planning can be a tricky beast to master; however, it is undeniably essential to any and every business. Simply put, disaster recovery protocols help ensure that one’s system will continue to operate after any number of external hindrances—i.e. computer viruses, natural disasters, etc.
While the necessity of disaster recovery may seem like common sense, deploying an adequate plan may prove slightly more challenging. A variety of plans and information come to bring a number of misconceptions pertaining to disaster recovery.
To help users sift through fact and fiction we’ve consulted industry experts Bob Boyd, President & CEO of Agility Recovery, and Matt Lucas, VoIP Engineer at CSC. In doing so, we've compiled a list of 10 common misconceptions that appear with disaster recovery.
1. Recovery plans aren’t necessary for companies with multiple locations: Just because your business has more than one location doesn’t mean you don’t need a recovery plan. Typically, with infrastructure like this, each company location works to complete a different task—almost like an assembly line. As such, if one site were to go down the rest would undoubtedly suffer. That being said, users should want to ensure that every branch of their business is up and running at all times.
2. Executives Can Think on Their Feet: Regardless of how good someone is at their job, it’s a big risk to rely on one person’s quick thinking. “If company leaders have not planned in advance to recover their business, they have not taken all aspects and results into consideration. During a crisis it is easy to move too fast and miss important steps along the way. A well thought-out plan is the best solution for ensuring the fastest, smartest and most economical recovery,” states Bob Boyd. Aside from this, Boyd brings up the point of focus and attention. For example, the after affects of a disaster like employee, client, and company well being. In addressing these issues, executives will not have the time or resources to fix the disaster as it happens.
3. Data Backup Isn’t Enough: Sure, backing up your data can be extremely beneficial, but what happens when you don’t have the physical equipment/hardware to retrieve what you’ve backed up? Simply put, the answer is you’re helpless. Users need to plan for the worst—i.e. something could very well happen to wipe out servers, computers, phones, and more; therefore, you need a contingency to overcome this obstacle. “A recovery plan should have information regarding hardware back-ups plan as well as software back-up plans,” states Boyd again.
4. A Recovery Plan Doesn’t Need Updates: This is one of the biggest fallacies around. Just as your business is a living thing (growing and changing all the time) so must be your recovery plan. Again, Bob Boyd states, “Your continuity plan must be a living document, tested and updated frequently to ensure new rules and regulations are included and accounted for with hypothetical testing scenarios.” If one doesn’t update their system along with their business they may find their plan not covering every inch of their business in a disaster situation.
5. People Recovery: This term refers to the availability and will of one’s employees to return to work. More often than not, businesses tend to overlook their employees in these situations. As such, one has to be sure their workforce is ready, willing, and able to work just like their system. Without a staff, it doesn’t matter if one’s system is up as there is no one to run it. That being said, businesses NEED to take care of their employees, especially through disasters.
6. 100% Insurance Coverage: This is rarely, if ever, the case. While one’s insurance company may end up footing the bill to replace all your equipment, they don’t take into account timeliness. So, while your insurance may cover the costs of your system, will they cover your losses in the time it takes to get your system back up and running? The answer is no. Customers and clients will not wait for you to get your system back up and running. Instead, they’ll flock to your competition, leaving you less income; therefore, the longer one’s system is out, the longer they run the risk of losing business. Despite this, insurance is still a good tool to have, but more so when its used as a supplemental tool—i.e. in addition to a disaster recovery plan.
7. The Planning Process is Time Consuming: Many businesses think that planning for disasters is a waste of valuable time; however, planning doesn’t take long at all, and it could end up saving you tons of time (and money) later down the line. As with anything else, time is of the essence. Selecting and deploying a disaster recovery plan, much like other practices, can be broken down into steps. “Continuity planning can be completed in segments, over time, with a group of people. There’s no set timeframe for the planning process and it can be as flexible as you need it to be.”
8. There IS a Difference Between Disaster Recovery and a Back Up Server: A disaster refers to a catastrophic event (natural or otherwise) in which your entire system suffers downtime. It is because of this scale that a disaster contingency is needed. Lucas states that while a backup server may be good in the case of a CPU or drive failure, it will not be enough to cover your entire system during an actual disaster scenario. That being said, users need to understand the difference between these failsafes as one is big picture (disaster recovery) and the other is day to day (back up server).
9. Just Because You Have a Plan Doesn’t Mean It’ll Work: As with anything, users need to test their disaster plan to be sure it works. One should NEVER use the disaster environment as the test environment. Instead, users need to be sure their back up plan functions properly. Again, Matt Lucas details that users to be sure their plan is “able to hold the full load of production,” and that it “should be upgraded and maintained just like production.” Let’s be frank, there isn’t much point of a back up plan that cant back up; therefore, run your disaster recovery plan from time to time. Be sure it can support your system. Just because you have one in tow doesn’t mean it’s ready to go.
10. Natural Causes: When hearing disaster recovery, most users have a tendency to associate the causing factor with a natural occurrence—i.e. disaster. This, however, is not always the case. As stated above, there are a number of factors that can call for the deployment of a disaster recovery plans. For example, plans may be needed due to hacking, IT errors, system attacks, viruses, and more.
While there are other misconceptions out there, the above represent those most commonly come across. The bottom line is that disaster recovery plans are a crucial part of planning for any business. As such, users should not take these plans lightly. They could play a large part in the success of your company later on down the road.