13 Mar 2017

Disaster recovery: The smartest, most affordable way to get back to normal sooner

Many organisations believe they’re prepared for a disaster because they back up their data every night. These businesses could be in for an unpleasant surprise if a real disaster strikes because an effective DR plan involves so much more than simple data backups.

Businesses that don’t get DR right can lose significant time and money in case of a disaster. By contrast, those that do get it right can get back up and running faster and more cost-effectively.

There are four things a business should do to get their DR right:

 

  1. Understand what recovery should look like

Lots of businesses assume that, with access to last night’s backed-up copy of their data, they can get back to work after a disaster. While that might be true for some small businesses, for most Australian mid-size businesses a true recovery is a lot more complicated.

Businesses should understand what systems they rely on and where those systems draw data from. They should then develop a DR plan that brings those systems back online, along with their data, in the right sequence. Getting the sequence correct is crucial for systems to work properly. For example, if the ERP system relies on information entered into the CRM system, then it’s essential to bring the CRM system back online first, followed by the ERP system. Otherwise the data won’t match and errors will occur. The recovery speed that the DR system allows will play a large role in determining the ultimate effect of a disaster on the business. Two measures are important:

  • RPO: How often your IT servers and data is fully replicated as a recoverable volume. Typically, 1-4 hours.

  • RTO: How long it will take your replicated environment to be activated, accessible and usable after disaster declaration. Typically, 2-4 hours.

Of course, the lower these two times, the better. A lot will depend on the nature of the systems and your DR plan.

 

  1. Put together a DR team

Invoking a disaster isn’t a matter of pressing a single button. It usually requires a small group of people who are experts in specific areas to execute a series of steps to bring systems back online sequentially. So businesses need to know who is in the DR team, how to contact them in case of an emergency and what responsibilities each person will have.

Most mid-size businesses don’t have the luxury of in-house experts in every aspect of their IT environment, so they may need to rely on external experts such as Brennan IT.

 

  1. Test the DR plan in real-world circumstances

Once the DR plan is in place it’s absolutely critical to test it under real-world conditions. A do-it-yourself DR plan can be workable but it often relies on the internal team having access to the DR infrastructure to begin with. In a real disaster, that’s unlikely to be the case, making all the organisation’s DR planning irrelevant.

Too many businesses either don’t test their DR Plan or they test it under unrealistic conditions, using the same people and infrastructure that may not be available in the case of a true disaster.

 

  1. Contact a DR specialist

Getting DR wrong costs time and money, which can spell the end for a business affected by a disaster. Brennan IT offers DR-as-a-Service using Veeam Orchestrator. It replicates the customer’s environment via a network connection to the Brennan IT cloud. If the customer’s primary infrastructure isn’t available, they can invoke a disaster with a simple phone call to Brennan IT. We then power up the last known replica from the customer’s environment.

This doesn’t just back up servers; it changes the way the customer connects to their environment so they begin using virtual machines in the Brennan IT cloud. This lets them keep working while the primary infrastructure is repaired, so downtime is kept to a minimum.

Orchestrator’s scripts bring the customer’s environment back online, using logic to complete each of the necessary steps in the right sequence. This gives customers the certainty that, when they do invoke a disaster, they’ll recover in the synchronous manner that matches each of their systems to the right point in time. This lets them get their recovery right the first time and meet their RTO.

Having an independent DR service is valuable because it doesn’t rely on any of the customer’s internal infrastructure for recovery.

Brennan IT’s DR-as-a-Service solution is unique for the mid-market: it’s a highly-affordable, reliable and sophisticated way to hit the ground running after a disaster, and it doesn’t require any in-house expertise.

When disaster strikes, people often panic. Trusting Brennan IT with your disaster recovery is the smartest way to get a cost-effective plan in place that gets your organisation back to normal sooner.

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