Disaster-recovery solutions are now a fundamental part of staying in business. Especially for small to midsize businesses, having a solid and reliable copy of data is essential. But simple storage solutions aren’t the only consideration when it comes to continuing operations after a major disaster.
In a situation where data is threatened—be it a weather anomaly, ransomware attack or extensive power outage—the smaller the organization, the more likely it will experience a catastrophic failure unless it has a reliable and fast failover solution. Your organization may already have a business-continuity plan or storage solution for short or small outages, but are you prepared for a disaster? Here are a few things to think about when reviewing your data-recovery plan.
Map Your Disaster-Recovery Plan to Your Business Objectives
A retail business relies heavily on consistent income, but that income may fluctuate depending on the time of year. If a severe storm were to knock out power during the holiday season, a shop’s point-of-sale data must be quick and easy to recover to stay in business. On the other hand, a small outage in mid-February may affect sales to a much lesser degree. Are your organization’s data needs dependent on the time of year?
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, about 25 percent of small businesses are unable to reopen after a major outage. Ask yourself these questions about your business-continuity objectives:
- Could you bounce back after an outage of hours, days, or weeks?
- Are your operations safe in your on-premises location, or should you consider a cloud backup solution as well?
A 2015 Gartner study found that 40 percent of organizations rated their ability to recovery from disaster as “fair” or “poor” and that the cost of just one hour of downtime ranges from $8,000 for a small business to $700,000 for an enterprise. This one-time financial threat is troubling but doesn’t even consider the loss of reputation, negative PR and impaired customer revenue that an outage might cause.
If your data isn’t easy to restore, will your business survive any amount of downtime?
Have a Data-Backup Plan—and a Data Recovery Plan, Too!
Data storage is one thing, but easily retrieving and restarting operations is another. Combining cloud storage with a backup and replication plan allows organizations to quickly and confidently restore data swiftly and flexibly. Cloud storage reduces the risk of losing critical data by enabling users to securely keep data and recovery solutions off site.
Disaster-recovery managed-service providers (MSPs) can help determine how quickly you can restore your organization’s data and applications after an outage. An on-premises data-storage solution can be wiped out in an instant, but a cloud solution guarantees your data and applications are quickly retrievable. Patrick Lohmeyer, Associate Vice President of PCM’s Service Offerings, asks, “Which applications and data are critical to your business operations, and which aren’t?” Depending on the MSP, recovery times can vary from a few minutes to a few days, but that’s still better than losing data completely.
Weigh the Price of Disaster Versus the Cost of Recovery
The cost of data backup varies depending on whether a partial restoration, full restoration or total blackout restoration is necessary. What’s the biggest threat facing your organization?
A disaster-recovery MSP will offer many types of solutions. The simplest service is one where a customer replicates on-premises data and saves a copy. Historically, doing so meant saving a copy on tape and storing it in a warehouse. But with modern cloud backup, storage is now cheaper, it’s easier to access, and it saves time and effort in IT infrastructure and recovery. Searching for old tapes is inefficient. Locating your data on the cloud can take mere minutes. More-extensive solutions from an MSP will often include faster data recovery, software retrieval or entirely off-site business-continuity plans.
After Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast in 2012, only 70 percent of businesses completely restored their activities within six months. If your organization is destroyed by a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, can your employees work remotely and keep business humming? If not, a full recovery solution for data and applications may be necessary. Which assets does your organization require to weather that type of storm?
Contact a Managed-Service Provider Today
A disaster-recovery MSP can help implement these much needed business-continuity solutions. Lohmeyer says, “Historically, companies ran multiple private data centers in an effort to spread the risk and provide redundancies themselves, as opposed to using a hosting and/or cloud partner. As companies shift IT functions to service partners in order to focus their efforts on their own products and services, they are less interested in continuing to bear the costs of multiple data centers and managing it themselves.”
A good disaster-recovery cloud solution should offer cost-effective plans for data recovery in any scenario, from partial to full restoration, and from small to large storage as well as automation requirements. When considering the expense of a disaster, make sure your MSP has your best interests at heart. It should readily provide information about its reporting procedures, IT-downtime strategy, recovery-time objectives and other solutions you’ll need in a disaster.
Don’t leave your organization in the dark. Dust off your backup plan and consider how your organization might survive a disaster. Don’t have a plan? Time to get serious about staying in business.
About the Author
David Hall, PCM’s SVP of Solutions and Services, has over 30 years of experience in assessing, deploying, implementing and supporting IT technologies and the associated processes of the life cycle. David is responsible for providing strategic leadership for PCM solutions and services including managed-services delivery, field-service end-user computing solutions, and integration and deployment operation centers. In doing so he also assists in managing several quality-control programs including ISO 9001 certifications for the company’s integration and distribution operations in Columbus, Ohio, and Irvine, California, as well as SSAE16 and PCI DSS Cloud Tier III data centers. In addition to services, David assists in PCM’s main product-vendor programs with leading software and hardware providers.