According to the most recent figures a whopping 73 percent of all companies around the world do not have adequate disaster readiness preparations. About 60 percent lack any completed disaster recovery plan, while one-third of those businesses with a plan have not tested to see if it works or not. Sixty-five percent do try to test their plans, but do not pass their own tests. Clearly, there is a lot of ground to cover in terms of disaster readiness.
Fortunately, virtual environments are much easier to back up and restore than IT environments with physical machines. With physical machines the backup space is so costly that businesses typically have to pick about 20 percent of their machines to back up and protect with recovery plans, leaving the other 80 percent wholly unprotected. IT departments using virtual environments, however, can afford to back up all of their systems for about the same cost as the others spend on backing up just 20 percent.
What Does a Solid Disaster Recovery Plan Look Like?
A good disaster recovery plan is well documented, well tested, and well understood by those who are in a position to be involved in any recovery process that may occur.
There are a lot of backup and disaster recovery solutions available, but it’s critical to understand that these products are just the foundation for a solid recovery plan. No vendor solution is a complete DR solution, because you have to take your particular environment into account. What systems do you need to restore? How often should you conduct a complete backup? How frequently should you supplement the full backup with a partial backup that includes changes and additions? You have to address all of these questions in addition to what your disaster recovery vendor provides.
A complete disaster recovery plan includes:
- A number of potential recovery scenarios that could force your business into a recovery process
- A plan of action for each scenario
- A definition of what "fully restored" means: what systems, data, etc. will be restored to the granular (file) level
- A process for restoring according to that definition, along with contingency plans for uncontrollable events, such as power outages, Internet outages, and damaged or destroyed facilities
Testing and Perfecting the Disaster Recovery Plan
What is the difference between companies that are able to carry on after a disaster and those forced to close their doors? A well-tested and finely-tuned disaster recovery plan.
How well did you do in developing your plan? There is no way to know until you’ve tested it. Many businesses neglect testing because it is expensive, not just in terms of financial cost, but also in terms of time and resources. However, about 40 percent of all businesses never reopen following a disaster, especially when the event destroys their primary data and systems. Only a tested and perfected disaster recovery plan can protect you from becoming one of many businesses that make up this sad statistic.Test your plan regularly and update it as you grow, add new systems to be backed up, add employees, and as the business evolves. Be sure the plan is well documented and well understood by all of the workers who would be charged with the restoration process in the event of an actual disaster. Until it works right, the disaster plan is not complete.
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