The COVID-19 pandemic is a good reminder to review business continuity and disaster recovery plans, which can help you and your company weather this and other challenges. In this post, we share advice on how to prepare your business for the unexpected.
A business continuity plan is your overall plan that outlines your business response to ensures your business can recover from a disaster.
A disaster recovery plan is a subset of business continuity plan that specifically covers how you will continue operations and recover your applications and data in the event of a disaster.
You may also like: A Crash Course in Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Planning
Advice for your business continuity and disaster recovery plan
Whether your workloads are in the cloud, or whether you are considering using the cloud for disaster recovery of non-cloud workloads, businesses reap the following benefits of business continuity and disaster recovery planning. Here are tips on what to include when building or improving upon your plan:
1. Consider your customer from the start
Customers depend on your business, and you don’t want to lose their loyalty. Some data and applications will have a bigger effect on business continuity than others. Disaster recovery planning allows you to rank the urgency of each critical business function along with the application that supports that function.
2. Maintain revenue with a productive workforce
It may be obvious, but you need to write a plan to protect your business from lost revenues, service level (SLA) penalties, and reputation damage. This starts with understanding what your employees need to stay productive. With disaster recovery planning, you can secure in advance the use of an alternate workplace and equipment to allow them to keep working. This includes arming your employees with the right productivity tools and enabling the identity & access management tools for remote workers.
Business continuity workspace is also an option for businesses that are unable to access their typical workspaces. Some businesses have key staff that can’t fully operate from home and need a place where they can maintain their business continuity operations during a major disruption. With these workspace services, businesses can utilize a data center provider’s facility to continue their business continuity operations.
3. Ensure your VPN can handle an influx of remote workers
When enabling remote work, you want to also ensure you have enough capacity to handle that increase in remote workers accessing your networks. We’ve seen large increases in the need for additional VPN bandwidth and connections during some of the bigger disaster scenarios. Not only is it important to prepare your corporate network, but you should also make sure your VPN into your DR environments is right-sized and can burst bandwidth and the overall number of users on demand.
4. Identify your recovery objectives
Know what needs to be recovered first. What data or applications do other applications depend upon? How much data can you afford to lose? How much time can your business withstand during an outage? You need to understand your recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) for each workload. Application tiering can then be used to minimize downtime with a limited budget. RPOs and RTOs also help choose the right replication methods. Disaster recovery planning allows you the time and focus to do a deep discovery and document your IT infrastructure, including dependencies.
Recovery Point Objective: How much data you can afford to lose.
Recovery Time Objective: How quickly you need to be back online.
Read more about this: 3 Recovery Objective Considerations for Your Disaster Recovery Plan
5. Take a closer look at your existing disaster recovery plan
Your current disaster recovery strategy may be obsolete. Physical failover sites were once common but are costly. Cloud computing vendors have made significant advances and are lower cost. New technology such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) lets you orchestrate and automate recovery.
6. If you have an existing cloud platform, don’t assume it’s redundant out of the box
Just because your business may be using cloud services such as Azure or Amazon, those implementations may not be redundant. Redundancy for some aspects of those platforms must be explicitly designed for and implemented.
7. Find the right disaster recovery solutions for your various systems
Right-size your BC/DR solutions to each of your systems. Evaluate the real business operation costs an interruption would incur to determine the actual value of your solutions (for each system). Some system operations can sustain larger interruptions of service with smaller impact, while other system operations have extremely large impacts, if interrupted. An efficient disaster recovery plan may have different levels of protection for different business systems.
8. Understand your cybersecurity policy
Don't be a victim of cybercrime. Stored data and data in motion can both be compromised, and configurations matter. Make sure your cybersecurity team members are included in any business continuity and disaster recovery planning. Cyber-attacks are a growing business disruptor and cost businesses an average of $8.19 million per breach in 2019.
9. Communicate with your employees to keep them up to date
Disaster recovery & business continuity planning can help your company reduce mistakes. Your DR plan should include directions for employees to follow in a disaster event, so they know what to say and to whom (partners, customers, and employees).
When was the last time you reviewed your BC/DR plan?
These are just some of the things to consider when writing your disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Whether you’re just starting out or already have a BC/DR plan, a trusted provider can help you identify gaps and improve your plan. Contact us to learn how we can help you with your planning.
A complimentary report on pandemic response & planning
We understand that businesses are currently responding to customer concerns about pandemics. We partnered with Forrester to provide a complimentary report on how businesses can prepare for the growing threat of pandemics. The report covers the risks organizations face without a proper pandemic plan, the components of an effective plan, and the impact of climate change on businesses and their employees. Download the report here.