Disaster recovery (DR) is an important investment not just for large companies but also startups and small businesses. An effective disaster recovery plan will include the policies, procedures, and tools necessary to regain access to data, IT, and functionality in the case of a crisis, natural disaster, or cyberattack. It makes sure that your organization has the capability to restore a complete working environment and remain resilient in the face of unforeseen disruptions.
In the past, disaster recovery and business continuity entailed duplicating an organization’s entire infrastructure. This used to be a preserve for huge organizations and government entities as small businesses could not afford the massive cost. Disaster recovery has evolved immensely since then. The rise of new technologies such as server virtualization made DR a faster, simpler, and less costly implementation because it removes the need to rebuild a physical server environment. With cloud computing, modern businesses can outsource disaster recovery plans in what is referred to as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).
Server virtualization – or the ability to switch processes to a redundant server when the primary asset fails – has totally changed how businesses implement disaster recovery plans. Virtualization is the best option to safeguard your capabilities from various threats. This article offers practical checkpoints for your virtualization backup and IT disaster recovery strategies.
- Critical Virtual Machines
One of the most important checklist items when laying out your DR virtualization strategy is to identify your most critical virtual machines. Organizations use virtual machines to run servers, applications, and databases. But not all virtual machines are the same. Those that host business-critical services and resources should be a priority for virtualization backup and IT disaster recovery. Maintaining clarity regarding your critical virtual machines will increase efficacy and reduce the time to recovery following a disaster.
- Authentication Mechanism
When it comes to backups and disaster recovery, the focus is usually on data and applications. But the ability to replicate authentication to the recovery site can be crucial to a seamless recovery. This may be achieved by maintaining a snapshot of the active directory server that is constantly synchronized with the virtual disaster recovery site.
- Backup and recovery strategy
Your backup and recovery strategy will have a significant implication on the implementation of your disaster recovery virtualization. What backup software are you going to use for the virtual environment? What are its capabilities? Is it able to seamlessly implement the backup while files are being transferred back to your main host system? These are some of the key questions that you should answer. As a rule of the thumb, storing a backup of the virtual machine in your main host system (instead of the same storage as the virtual machine itself) can help prevent loss of snapshots in case of hardware failure.
- Inter-site Connectivity
Most organizations choose to maintain physical separation between the primary site and the backup or disaster recovery site. This way, any natural disasters or threats affecting the primary sites are unlikely to also disrupt the recovery site. But while this arrangement makes sense for purposes of efficiency, it calls for good connectivity between the two sites. Organizations that need to replicate a lot of data between the primary server and the virtual instances will need higher bandwidth to maintain operational reliability.
- Reliability Testing
Thorough testing is an important aspect of disaster recovery virtualization. Backup systems need to be reviewed to ensure that they are working correctly. The goal is to ensure that everything goes according to plan should there be a need to restore data and applications after a disruption. Unexpected failures in the disaster recovery virtualization can wreak havoc at a time when your business is already facing a crisis, leading to financial losses and reputation damage. Whether you are implementing the disaster recovery system yourself or outsourcing to a third-party provider, constant testing should be a crucial consideration.
Automation is a key benefit of modern disaster recovery systems compared to legacy methods. Not only does it save time by ensuring that backup tasks are completed behind the scenes, but also reduces the risk of human error. Automation also increases preparedness for potential disruptions. You do not have to worry that an IT employee will forget to implement scheduled backups on time.
- Implementation Tools
The market is awash with tools for disaster recovery and business continuity. These range from Stellar Data Recovery for Virtual Machine tools such as VMDK, VDI, and VHD image files that recovery all types of data. Rocket Virtual Data Recovery tools create high-intensity backups to the selected media in order to reduce costs. Double-Take tools, on the other hand, are equipped with data replication and failover features for business-critical data. Knowing what tools to use – based on your business setup and resources – can play a role in how effective your virtualization disaster recovery works.
- Recovery Time Objective
Different businesses have varying needs. Some companies will suffer massive losses if they encounter downtown that lasts as long as one hour. Examples include high-tech providers and stock trading companies. Other types of businesses may have less stringent requirements with regard to availability. Creating a recovery time objective that is fashioned after your company’s needs in the real world can help realize an optimized DR plan. While physical disaster recovery infrastructure can take hours to implement manual tasks, most virtualized disaster recovery setups are able to restore functionality within minutes.
Many organizations choose to outsource disaster recovery virtualization support in order to reap benefits such as cost reduction, improved security, faster recovery, scalable setup, and compliance. Outsourcing this crucial aspect of business continuity can also help free your IT team from the burden of technical maintenance and monitoring. Third-party DRaaS providers have specialized engineering teams working around the clock to keep your virtual servers running at a fraction of the cost. When comparing third-party providers, it is important to consider the kind of support you can expect to receive in the event of disaster recovery. Make sure to review Service Level Agreements to ascertain that the provider you are choosing is aligned with your company’s expectations.
Virtualization offers a high level of protection and advanced functionality when implemented properly. Taking the time to refine your strategy can help reduce implementation risks and ensure that your DR comes in handy when you need it. What resources and services do you want to prioritize? Many organizations focus on customer-facing applications followed by critical internal applications. The considerations provided on this page should be a good starting point.
It is also important to note that many organizations – and especially small businesses – can benefit from delegating virtualized disaster recovery to a third-party provider such as Accrets International. Accrets Disaster Recovery teams operate private cloud services so you do not have to worry about finding alternate data centers. They seamlessly backup data, IT infrastructure, and resources that are important to maintain resiliency in your company. More still, Accrets Data Recovery specialists will plan and execute periodic rehearsals with your business to ensure disaster recovery at all times.