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Avoid Downtime With Our Guide to IT Disaster Recovery Management

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Dale Shulmistra

Data Protection Specialist @ Invenio IT

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IT disaster recovery management

Infiltrations by hackers, loss of access due to malware or ransomware, unintentional data loss, natural disasters — these are just a few of the potential disaster scenarios that businesses face. Preparing for those events is critical to minimizing downtime and disruptions to your operations.

Implementing a comprehensive disaster recovery management plan across your entire IT network is complex and often expensive, but it’s ultimately worth the investment. In this post, we’ll review everything you need to know about IT disaster recovery management, including why many businesses employ a third-party solution.

Why Is Disaster Recovery Important?

Businesses must be able to quickly recover from a disaster. A prolonged operational disruption significantly increases the risk that the business will never recover.

Even when a business survives, the effect on its bottom line can be devastating. More than two-thirds of all IT outages in 2022 had costs exceeding $100,000, a number that has consistently grown over the past several years.

Where do those budget-busting sums come from? Let’s break it down:

  • Idle workers: During a disruption, employees often continue earning wages but are unable to perform their job duties. A prolonged productivity loss quickly adds up.
  • Physical damage: Natural disasters may damage infrastructure, equipment, or entire buildings. Repairing and replacing structures and technology components, such as hard drives and network hardware, can be extremely costly.
  • Lost revenue: A disaster might make it temporarily impossible for you to collect or process payments or deliver products to market. It could also interrupt production or other essential processes.
  • Data recovery: Complex data recovery sometimes requires hiring outside resources and specialists. This is particularly true if you don’t have a reliable data backup solution.
  • Reputational damage: If customers, clients, or vendors have a negative perception of your business’s security, it may cause lasting reputational damage. They might pull back over concerns that you’re at risk of experiencing further disruptions.

Businesses can significantly curb the costs of a disaster in each of these categories by speeding up their recovery time. That, in a nutshell, is what makes disaster recovery management so crucial to your future success.

Building a Foundation for Disaster Recovery Planning

Disaster recovery planning is virtually impossible if you don’t understand what risks your business is facing. To start, you’ll need to determine what kinds of disasters are likely to affect your organization and how they might disrupt your operations. Only then can you adequately implement protocols and systems that ensure you can rapidly recover from them.

Your business continuity plan should already spell out this information in an extensive risk assessment and business impact analysis. Your disaster recovery plan (DRP), which outlines specific recovery methods and technologies, rests on that foundation.

What to Consider in Your Planning

Disaster recovery planning often focuses on IT-related disasters, such as data loss, but the term can technically refer to a wide range of disruptions.

For the moment, let’s look exclusively at the data backup side of recovery planning, which commonly falls under the larger umbrella of business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR). When businesses lose data, they have to recover it as quickly as possible to avoid a prolonged operational disruption. To facilitate that recovery, consider these components within your planning:

  • Recovery point objective (RPO): The RPO is a threshold for setting the maximum allowable age of the most recent data backup. An aggressive RPO minimizes data loss by ensuring that a recent backup is always available.
  • Recovery time objective (RTO): Your RTO is a threshold for setting the maximum allowable time for recovery. For example, if you wanted to ensure the business could recover from a data-loss event within 60 minutes, you would set an RTO of 1 hour.
  • Technologies: You can’t set an aggressive RPO or RTO without the technology to make it possible. Identify data backup systems that can provide the desired frequency and recovery speed, while also minimizing the risk of a failed restore or corrupted data.
  • Protocols: These are the procedures for performing the recovery and who will administer them. It’s a step-by-step plan that your business must follow to ensure that you meet your recovery objectives.
  • Testing: Ongoing testing of backup systems and performing mock recoveries help confirm you can successfully restore data without errors in the event of a real-world disaster. Failing to test your technologies or plans could leave you vulnerable.

In combination, these elements of your disaster planning contribute to a well-rounded management approach that protects your business.

Who Should Manage Your DR Strategy?

With so many components to disaster recovery planning and implementation, businesses are left with an important question: should they manage it all in-house or get help from third-party specialists?

The answer depends on the size and structure of your organization. Every business, no matter how small, should have some form of DR plan, but some companies lack the resources to develop a full-scale recovery strategy, let alone deploy and manage the right tech solutions.

You’ll need someone to carry out all of these tasks and more:

  • Write and update the plan
  • Perform the risk assessment
  • Calculate the business impact analysis
  • Research the latest BC/DR solutions
  • Implement, maintain, and test the plan

Put all those responsibilities together, and you’ve got a compelling case for using an outside firm for disaster recovery management. It not only simplifies the process but also often proves to be more cost-effective than handling everything internally.

The Value of Outsourcing Your IT Disaster Recovery Management

DR management providers offer a variety of services. Some specialize in the initial planning and development of the BCP, while others focus more specifically on IT systems, like data backup solutions. Regardless of which components your business needs, there could be multiple advantages to using a third-party provider.

1. Cost Savings

In many cases, it makes more financial sense to outsource disaster recovery management responsibilities than to hire additional in-house staff. Many small and medium-sized businesses don’t employ full-time IT managers, so using an outside firm saves money and eliminates the lengthy hiring process. Additionally, by hiring experts who specialize in disaster recovery, you’ll lower the risk of costly errors that hurt your bottom line.

2. Expertise 

Providers who focus on DR management every day will have a deeper knowledge of the industry than in-house staff who only do it occasionally. Ultimately, this expertise can mean the difference between an effective recovery and a failed one.

For example, imagine that you need to deploy a new data backup system. An in-house IT professional can certainly research different BCDR solutions, but that process takes time and considerable effort. An outside BCDR expert, on the other hand, will already have insight into the best solutions and how to properly deploy them.

3. Faster Response and Recovery

From emergency protocols to advanced recovery technologies, IT providers who specialize in DR understand what’s needed to ensure the fastest recovery possible. Achieving your RTOs and RPOs is virtually impossible without the right technology and experienced people managing it. While your on-site IT teams may have broad knowledge about these systems, outside specialists can typically respond more quickly and precisely to disruptive IT incidents.

Technologies That Help With DR Management

Keep in mind that today’s leading BC/DR technologies have built-in layers of disaster recovery management. Automated processes like hybrid cloud backup and backup verification help to eliminate tasks that were previously hands-on and time-intensive.

Hybrid Cloud Backups

Some BC/DR solutions continually back up your data so it’s always available. Ideally, they store it in two locations: on-premise in a dedicated physical device and in a secure cloud service.

This process isn’t limited to simply securing and restoring individual files. A strong backup system can also recreate virtual IT infrastructure when it’s compromised. When on-site data is inaccessible, backups can be booted as virtual machines, allowing you to continue using critical applications even if on-site infrastructure is no longer available.

Combining both local and cloud-based security and backup ensures that if a physical issue like a fire occurs, you’ve got virtual support. From the opposite perspective, if the issue is a compromise of online security, you always have your local backups available.

Backup Verification

The most effective data solutions also use advanced backup verification to determine whether each backup is viable. This automated process test-boots every backup as it’s created. In addition to verifying the backup image, it uses script execution to confirm that a service or application is executable. With this technology, you can rest assured that your backups will work when you need them.

Elements of a Successful Disaster Recovery Management Plan

Your disaster recovery management plan should reflect the unique needs of your organization. With that said, there are some core components that every plan should contain.

Frequent Backups

Completing infrequent backups is essentially the same as having no backups at all. Look for a solution that uses a snapshot system to replicate not just collections of files but the entirety of your critical software infrastructure. The best solutions allow you to customize how often your network snapshots are taken, down to a frequency of once every five minutes.

Backup Power Supply & Surge Suppression

A backup power supply, such as a generator that runs on liquid propane or natural gas, is crucial for businesses that can’t afford operational downtime. An inverter generator powers computer systems while cleaning and stabilizing the voltage produced, removing the spikes and drops that conventional generators experience. For protection from short-term power outages, an uninterruptible power source (UPS) provides an electronic solution that provides a bridge to a switchover to generator power.

Fire Suppression

For obvious reasons, traditional sprinklers aren’t an acceptable choice for server rooms or spaces full of computers that contain critical company data. As such, you’ll need a different fire suppression system to quickly extinguish any flames.

When a fire breaks out, server rooms generally seal off and displace the oxygen in the room with an inert gas to starve the fire. Both server rooms and general office rooms can also employ a synthetic gas cooling system as an alternative to water.

Remote or Cloud Backups

Pushing local backup snapshots to remote secure cloud servers is critical to ensuring that you have access to your data even if your physical devices are damaged or destroyed. Find a data backup solution that prunes out older versions when they become obsolete and unnecessary. Infinite cloud retention is also available to businesses that need to keep backups for longer periods, whether for added security or regulatory compliance.

Third-Party Monitoring and Intervention

Remote monitoring should be a trusted safety net, not another security concern. Remote intervention verifies that backups are retained properly, secures files appropriately, and assists during a disaster. You should also have continual access to troubleshooting support.

What to Look for in a Managed Service Provider

Companies looking to improve their DR management will likely partner with a third-party managed service provider (MSP), but not all MSPs offer the same level of service. Here are some things to evaluate as you compare options:

  • Experience, including years in business and number of active clients
  • What clients the MSP serves and how their needs and infrastructures compare to your own
  • The MSP’s knowledge of DR management, best practices, and the specific tech solutions you’re considering
  • Reviews, referrals, and ratings they received from current and former clients
  • Proof of performance in the form of actual results, such as cost savings, successful recoveries, and minimized risk

Don’t hesitate to seek out this information directly from the MSP and online before signing on the dotted line.

Prepare for the Worst With Invenio IT

Businesses today face numerous threats to their IT infrastructure, and it’s not enough to simply anticipate these disasters. Businesses also have to plan for their recovery to mitigate the impact when a disruptive event strikes. The team at Invenio IT has extensive knowledge of disaster recovery and can help guide you through the planning process. Schedule a call with a data protection specialist to learn more, or book a demo to see a data backup solution in action.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about IT Disaster Recovery Management 

1. What is IT disaster recovery management? 

IT disaster recovery management involves managing the systems and processes that enable an organization to recover from a disaster. This includes data backup systems, recovery protocols, testing, training, and business continuity planning.

2. What is DRP for information technology?

Within informational technology, DRP refers to the planning, protocols, and systems that help an organization recover after an unexpected outage. This planning outlines the required technologies, such as data backup systems, as well as the procedures that your organization should follow in a disaster.

3. What is included in an IT disaster recovery plan?

An IT disaster recovery plan summarizes all the procedures and technologies that help an organization recover from a disruption to its IT systems, including:

  • Emergency contact information
  • Recovery objectives
  • Risk assessment
  • Impact analysis
  • BCDR technologies
  • Recovery testing
  • Training programs
  • Protocols for disaster response and recovery
  • Plan review schedule

4. Who is responsible for disaster recovery?

Every organization is responsible for conducting disaster recovery planning. However, many organizations partner with specialized IT providers that can handle their disaster recovery management.

5. Why is it important to have an IT disaster recovery plan?

Every organization is at risk of experiencing an IT outage. An IT disaster recovery plan identifies the systems and procedures that reduce those risks and help facilitate a swift recovery when a disaster occurs.

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