With the latest data breaches experienced by Anthem and Premera, many organizations are questioning whether or not their disaster recovery (DR) planning can withstand the latest hacks. Other companies who have experienced a breach often don’t feel confident in their ability to resume operations within a reasonable time frame following a disaster. Finally there are some executives who dismiss DR planning as a non-essential activity, citing the time and cost involved without an immediate return. Regardless of the category in which your company falls, DR planning should be an essential element of your IT portfolio – and budget. And while DR planning can be a complex and time-consuming task when done properly, there are five mistakes you can avoid to streamline the process. Read on to learn more.
Mistake #1 – Confusing high availability with disaster recovery
Sure, high availability (HA) is important for some organizations, but it doesn’t equate to DR. HA can be part of an overall disaster recovery /business continuity initiative. However HA can also be a budget buster. HA (failover between clustered components) tends to be expensive and inappropriate for workloads and data that don’t need to be continuously available. So before you assume that all your data needs to be “always on,” take an inventory of it. You may find that only a small percentage of it needs HA.
Mistake #2 – Assuming that all of your data needs frequent back ups
Some organizations, particularly those that have experienced a breach, err on the side of caution and regularly back up all their data assets. However, assuming that all your data needs to be included in a single back up can be a time-consuming mistake. Again, this is when a data inventory comes in handy. A data inventory can help you delineate which of your data assets need frequent back up and replication and which of it is archival, which requires infrequent backing up, if at all. You can maximize your DR initiative while saving precious recovery time by segregating archive data from production data. Doing so will free up space on your production storage environment while possibly reducing the cost on your annual storage capacity.
Mistake #3 – Overlooking data that isn’t stored in a central location
Don’t get tunnel vision during your DR planning and assume that your essential data is only located at corporate headquarters. Business-critical data may exist in brank offices, desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and increasingly, smartphones. The rising popularity of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies has led to a decentralization of data. Did we mention that conducting a data inventory is a good idea?
Mistake #4 – Not testing your disaster recovery plan
So your company actually has a DR plan in place? Great! Now you need to commit to testing it on a regular basis. In an annual study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, companies with DR plans have dropped from approximately 50 percent to 39% last year. Of these companies, only a fraction of those who claim to have a plan actually test it on a regular basis. A DR plan is only good if it works, so coordinate with your IT leadership to schedule regularly testing of your DR plan.
Mistake #5 – Treating your DR plan as a “one and done”
Many DR plans “atrophy” because IT teams create them once, test them once and then forget about them. However, as your business grows, so should your DR plan. For example, whenever your IT team decides to stand up a new server, the first questions you should ask include:
- What do we need to do in order to update our DR plan accordingly?
- Should we start replicating that virtual machine?
- How often should this server’s data be protected?
- How long should the data on the server be retained?
Avoiding these five mistakes will help you develop and maintain a sold, cost-effective DR plan? Need help getting started? Contact HOSTING anytime for assistance. You can also view our on-demand webinar, Think You’ve Tested Your DR Plan? Think Again! for more information.