Businesses must now operate around the clock and that means their systems also need to be up and running 24/7 to support this. While it might have been acceptable to have outages on weekends or outside of business hours in the past, now, the window for any planned or unplanned downtime is smaller than ever.
Some outages may be inevitable, but organisations that have proper High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HA/DR) solutions and plans in place are preventing costly outages and delivering better service to their customers and partners.
Before we outline how to build a successful disaster recovery plan for your business, let’s look at why it’s so important to equip yourself with effective HA/DR solutions.
Why do you need a HA/DR solution?
Deciding whether or not you need the right tools and processes in place to properly respond to an outage ultimately comes down to a company’s appetite for risk. These are the key elements you need to consider.
- Recovering from downtime
How much downtime can you handle? While zero downtime is the goal, it’s important to understand how quickly you can get systems back up and running if you suffer an outage for any reason, planned or unplanned. This is what’s called the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).
- Recovering from data loss
How much data can you afford to lose? Today, this is also increasingly trending toward zero but it could still happen through an accidental deletion, system corruption, or a malware attack. In the event of data loss, companies should be confident that they have a good Recovery Point Objective (RPO).
- Minimising financial & reputational damage
More and more companies are now aware of the reputational damage and hefty costs associated with a business outage. We've seen instances of companies that suffer millions of dollars in fines because they haven’t been able to transact within a certain timeframe.
How To Successfully Implement A Disaster Recovery Plan
1. Make sure the solution meets your business requirements
It goes without saying that if the solution you choose is not mapped out to meet your specific business requirements, then there are going to some very expensive headaches in the event of a worst-case scenario.
Start by gauging what the actual requirements are and having all of the business units sign off on what’s critical to them to keep operating. We had one customer whose second most important piece of infrastructure was an IP telephony system because they were still getting a lot of orders coming through there.
That’s why there's no point in having a disaster recovery solution that covers your core application if there are other critical pieces in the tech stack required to make the system functional.
2. Practice, practice, practice
It’s so important to actually test the process of what should happen if your systems are suddenly down. If you have multiple people who could be involved, make sure that you're involving those people. Also, plan for some of those people to be unavailable because that could very well happen. Think about and plan for a number of different scenarios and keep practicing until you know the plan inside out.
3. Review your testing scenarios
Don’t just do tests and practice drills for the sake of it. You have to review the tests you've done and be disciplined about identifying what worked and what didn’t and implementing improvements to the process.
4. Ensure your documentation is accessible
Finally, make sure the plan is documented and that this documentation is very accessible in the event of a disaster. This is something that's frequently forgotten but it’s critical as your plan needs to be available, especially in a situation where your building might not be accessible.
Do you have a plan for when disaster strikes your business?
In episode 2 of our #SundataTV video series, we were joined by Peter Sanderson from Team Computing Australia to discuss why it’s critical to have a high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) capability, and what you should be looking for.
Here’s what we covered:
- Building the business case for a HA solution
- The lessons learned from real-life system outages
- HA solutions for companies running IBM Power infrastructure