The online world has become an integral part of the modern lifestyle. Since early 2020, it has played an essential role in the way we live. The advent of the global novel coronavirus pandemic has led to a worldwide shutdown of all society. Offices have shut, people have been forced to socially distance themselves from other people, especially family and friends, for months at a time. Thus, for millions of global netizens, the only means of generating an income or earning a living, shopping, and communicating with family and friends has been and continues to be, the Internet.
2021 statistics reported by broadbandsearch.net show that there are currently 4.98 billion Internet users worldwide. The number of Zoom downloads, the most popular video calling app, jumped from just under 5 million downloads to 26.8 million downloads in March 2020. In 2020, consumers spent just under $3 trillion online shopping. And current social media statistics report that there are about 4.3 billion social media users across the globe.
The primary aim of these statistics is to demonstrate that with the ever-increasing reliance on the Internet for business, social interactions, and shopping, global organizations must develop a robust, workable disaster recovery plan in the event of a disaster.
Even though organizations might want to ignore the possibility of downtime due to a disaster occurring, the fact remains that disasters of all types occur, including natural disasters, human error, cyber-attacks, and even secondary disasters that can bring down the organization’s servers like power failures, data center cooling failures, and burst water pipes.
Organizations across the world are relying more and more on technology and electronic data to operate. And the amount of data and IT infrastructure lost to disasters is increasing. While the cost of a single disaster is difficult to predict, cost estimates of the impact of natural disasters in February 2021 were expected to top $19 billion in insured losses in the state of Texas, USA, alone.
Therefore, the possibility of a disaster occurring cannot be ignored, and it must be planned for in the form of a disaster recovery plan (DRP), including an off-site recovery solution.
By way of expanding on this statement, let’s consider 5 elements of a successful disaster recovery plan.
1. Form a disaster recovery team
Because of the priority needed to be given to developing a disaster recovery plan and updating and testing it over time, it is imperative to form a dedicated disaster recovery team from employees and managers across all parts of the organization. This team will be responsible for developing, implementing, updating, and testing the plan to ensure that the company can quickly recover from a disaster.
Secondly, the DRP should clearly state each team member’s role and contact details in the document containing the plan’s details. This plan should also identify who is the first contact point in the event of a disaster. And lastly, all company employees should have access to the completed DRP plan, be aware of what it contains, and understand their individual roles in the event of a disaster.
2. Identify disaster risks
As natural disasters increase in frequency and cybercrime and security breaches become more sophisticated, organizations must identify and assess their disaster risks. Additionally, the ability to quickly handle incidents can reduce downtime and minimize financial and reputational damage, which is critical to organizational success. Succinctly stated, the ability to identify potential risks is integral to creating a data recovery and protection strategy.
The types of disasters that organizations must plan for include
- Application and server failure
- Networking and communications failure
- A data center disaster
- Natural disasters such as hurricanes, typhoons, tornados, flash floods, severe thunderstorms, snowstorms, and cyclones.
- Power failures
- Citywide, regional, national, and multinational disasters
Not all of these possible disasters will apply to the individual organization. Therefore, it is essential to identify the potential risks applicable to the organization and work from there.
3. Identify critical applications, data, and resources
The next step in the DRP development process is to identify the mission-critical software applications, documents, data, resources such as buildings, vehicles, machinery, on-premises IT infrastructure, human resources, and intellectual resources.
The DRP must focus on short-term survivability, such as how to continue generating an income and ensuring cash flows remain optimal, while focusing on the medium- to the long-term goal of getting systems back up and running again.
4. Specify backup and off-site recovery
It is a good idea to consider signing up with an IT DRaaS (Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service) provider as part of the DRP. An IT DRaaS solution focuses on how to restore IT functions and operations quickly and efficiently and includes elements such as off-site backups and recovery functions.
Succinctly stated, a managed DRaaS will take responsibility for sourcing alternative data centers so that the IT systems that are down can be brought up again as fast as possible. The DRaaS service provider will also plan and execute IT DR rehearsals, ensuring that your company is always ready in the event of a disaster.
Note: While the backup and off-site recovery of data and IT infrastructure is critical to the modern company, it is not the only risk. Recovery from other disasters like the loss of access to offices, factories, and warehouses, or the need to work from home because of a global pandemic the world is currently living through, must also be detailed in the DRP.
5. Test and update the plan
As the organization grows, it is vital to update the DRP to keep up with the organization’s ever-evolving risks. For instance, if the company opens up a new warehouse, office, or factory, the disaster recovery must update the DRP to reflect these changes.
In summary, disaster recovery planning is a continual process as the risks of disasters and emergencies are constantly changing. Additionally, it is equally important to regularly test the DRP to ensure that everyone involved understands their role and can function together as a team. The organization needs to be continually ready in the event of an unexpected disaster.
Every organization, irrespective of size or industry, must develop a disaster recovery plan, including identifying and assessing risks, critical applications and business processes, and the specification of the off-site backup and recovery procedures. The disaster recovery team must ensure that the DRP is updated and tested regularly to make sure that the organization will be able to implement this DRP in the event of an unexpected disaster. Without an implementable DRP, the organization could lose substantial sums of money and even go bankrupt. Therefore, spending the time and money developing a DRP makes good business sense.