Disaster Recovery: What Happens the Day After?

June 27, 2016 (644 Views)

Little known fact: Lightning can strike the same place twice.

Here’s how: Cue electrical storm. A bolt from the heavens blasts your rooftop air conditioning unit, setting off a fire that spreads throughout the building.

The employees escape, the storm dissipates. But a lot of IT gear is charred to a crisp, there’s no power, and everything’s kind of wet.

“Everything’s ok!” the most optimistic employee in the company proclaims. “We were prepared for disaster! We backed up all our data!”

“Ok,” you, the pragmatic one, say. “So, exactly how do we get back to work and get the company up and running again at full speed? And how long will it all take?”

No one seems to have the answers. No one even seems to know what to do next. Lightning just struck the same place twice.

Data backup is a really good idea, given the array of potential disasters that could strike your business at any time – catastrophic weather, corporate-wide malware attack, random power outage, internal sabotage by a disgruntled soon-to-be-former employee, etc.

However, data backup does not a disaster recovery strategy complete. Or to say it less like Yoda, you backed up all your data, so now what?

data storage

Here some important questions that will need quick answers:

  • Where is the data backed up, and how? In a separate physical facility owned by the company? In the cloud? On tape?
  • Who can access it? All employees, some, or just one particular IT staffer?
  • How? What type of security is applied, and who has managing authorization and access to backed up data and recovery mode systems?
  • From where and what kinds of devices? Should employees work from home on their own PCs and phones? Should they move to an alternative physical office and use only specified, approved devices?
  • What about all of your applications, both internal ones and customer-facing apps? How soon can those start running again? What’s the process for rebooting them and notifying users?
  • When was the last time all of this was tested? Are we sure it’s going to work?

Some companies are big enough to have large, in-house IT groups. Their groups are organized and ready to execute those next steps, to get all corporate processes running again as if nothing happened, and to re-establish full support and communications to all customers, partners, and affiliates.

What about MSPs?

But many companies don’t have that depth and breadth of IT expertise at their disposal. For them, managed services, and solutions like cloud-based disaster recovery as a service, make the most sense. A managed services provider (MSP) can be the most critical partner and most trusted advisor of a company seeking to recover from a disaster. MSPs are partners that knows where data and recovery systems are located; how they can be accessed; by whom, from where, and which devices can be used; and how full application support can be re-established. Most importantly, they know that all of these processes have been tested, that all of them are up to date, and that disaster recovery itself will be a smooth step-by-step process, rather than a series of questions no one seems prepared to answer.

Businesses that could use such help have been slow to seek it out. A study by IT industry group CompTIA suggested that as of 2014, only 30% of companies had outsourced some IT functions, such as disaster recovery, to an MSP. Perhaps lack of trust is the reason. However, if you know your data is backed up, but not sure what happens next if lightning strikes, it’s time to ask for help. Find a partner you can trust.

flickr photo by Andrew Imanaka shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
flickr photo by Campus Party Europe shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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Written By

  • Dan O'Shea

    Dan O'Shea has covered the telecom and IT sectors as a journalist and technology analyst for more than 20 years. His reporting and analysis have appeared in Entrepreneur magazine, Light Reading, FierceTelecom, Telephony and elsewhere. He is based in Chicago.

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