Disaster Recovery Objectives That Save Your Business

by | Nov 14, 2016

What you need to know about disaster recovery objectives

Being prepared for serious mishaps in a business’s data processing operations requires a solid disaster recovery plan. Making sure it’s an adequate one is a complex task. A key step is to define specific disaster recovery objectives and determine how well the plan will meet them.

Technical objectives

The overall goal is resumption of service. The faster a business can get back to an acceptable level of service, the less business it will lose. The risk isn’t just missing opportunities while trying to recover, but permanent loss of customers who get impatient and go elsewhere. The plan should specify a Recovery Time Objective (RTO), the maximum acceptable length of time before services have to come back to a reasonable level. The number isn’t a guarantee; you don’t know how serious a disaster your business might experience. It’s a target, and an acknowledgement that if it isn’t met, the business is in trouble.

Resumption of service is distinct from resumption of operations. This is the point at which a business resumes something close to normal levels of productivity. It includes restoring the work environment as well as getting computer systems working. Depending on circumstances, this may come before or after resumption of normal service.

Achieving these objectives may require replacement of lost or damaged equipment. If failover systems are available, service and operations may resume first, allowing some leisure to replace the equipment. Having a detailed inventory of information systems, including configuration information, is essential to accomplishing this. If replacements are no longer available for some equipment, the recovery process needs to identify alternatives that will provide equivalent or better service.

Recovery of data is at least as important as restoring the physical equipment. The recovery plan needs to include a backup strategy that will allow the restoration of all necessary data. The Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is a metric for data recovery; it specifies the maximum time window before the moment of the disaster for which data loss is acceptable. For instance, with an RPO of ten minutes, it’s acceptable to lose transactions within ten minutes before the disaster, but not any more than that. In many cases, an RPO of zero is a requirement; that says there’s no such thing as acceptable loss.

Business objectives

These are the technical disaster recovery objectives. The ultimate measure of a recovery’s success, though, is how well it achieves business continuity and mitigates harm. It passes the test if it achieves these objectives:

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Avoiding financial loss is central. The point of any business is to make money and not lose it. The success of a recovery plan ultimately is its prevention of financial losses. The plan needs to be thorough, but one with costs out of proportion to its effectiveness doesn’t accomplish that goal very well.

Avoiding long-term business loss is as important as minimizing immediate losses. Customers and business partners aren’t always understanding when a mishap interrupts service. They want it resumed quickly, and if it isn’t, they may take their business to a competitor. Permanently. Keeping them informed about progress is as important as restoring service. Having an online notice that service is being restored is much better than having a completely unreachable website.

Legal and regulatory compliance can be a major concern. Being unresponsive for too long, or losing data permanently, can have legal consequences. It might lead to a breach of contract claim. An “act of God” defense may not be sufficient if a court rules that the business should have had better recovery procedures. Likewise, if laws and regulations require retaining certain information, the consequences could be unpleasant even if the loss wasn’t the result of negligence.

Datto’s business continuity solutions provide for reliable and secure backup and recovery. Its virtualized failover approach can bring RPO down to zero and achieve an RTO of seconds or minutes. Invenio IT offers a range of Datto products, designed to fit businesses of all sizes. Please contact us for details.

Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.

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