16 Oct 2014

IT disaster recovery: 2 Things every CIO should consider

Disaster Recovery is an essential function for every organisation, regardless of size. Although it’s the kind of investment that you’ll make and then hope you’ll never need, the cost of that investment is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of losing the organisation’s entire data and operating capacity in the event of a disaster on an IT Systems environment.

But Disaster Recovery (DR) solutions can be expensive, and it can require a level of technical expertise that many organisations simply do not have. And so it’s just as well that developments in Cloud Services technology have enabled simple and cost effective alternatives to traditional dedicated DR solutions. Production IT Infrastructure and business data is automatically replicated and very regularly refreshed to the service provider’s secure Cloud where it sits ready to be activated at short notice if a Disaster is declared by the organisation.

The importance of IT DR outsourcing planning

Whether to create a disaster recovery site in-house or to outsource disaster recovery is a fundamental decision that needs to be made when creating a disaster recovery strategy. The in-house approach may be tempting, with the assumption that the work related to DR can be performed by existing staff. Unfortunately, experience shows that in-house disaster recovery is more likely to fail than outsourced DR services.

According to an IDC study, enterprises that didn’t outsource lost on average $4 million per disaster incident across a variety of business functions (e.g., sales/marketing, financing, e-commerce). In contrast, enterprises that outsourced to a third party lost an average of $1.1 million per incident. The study adds that companies who leverage in-house models spend 32% more than those opting to outsource.

A recommended way to start is to engage with a provider for Cloud Disaster Recovery. For organisations with unwieldy legacy technology for their DR, this offers a convenient way to hit the failover button and continue working from when disaster hit, without compromising the data quality in the process. For organisations investing in DR for the first time, outsourcing is a cost effective solution that brings much needed technical expertise into the organisation via the provider, without the need to make costly skills acquisitions internal to the organisation, as would happen if the solution were to be built in-house.

Save Costs with a BIA

Further to the point above, it’s a good idea for any organisation looking to invest in Cloud for DR to invest in a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). In a BIA you’ll identify the data and infrastructure components which are absolutely required to keep the business running. This will in turn show you where your most crucial IT parts are, and it will help when designing DR platforms to prioritise and plan.

It’s the most critical data and infrastructure that you want to leverage a DRaaS provider and Cloud backups to protect, while lower cost DR backups can be used for less critical data.

While a DR solution is always going to be an expensive necessity if you never end up using it, a well-designed one that makes effective use of Cloud technology and a good service provider will limit the expense, and in the event of an outage provide a rapid and efficient restore path that can leverage both your organisation’s internal capabilities as well as the expertise of your partner.