From natural forces to cyber events to blackouts caused by worn infrastructure, disasters can cause business disruptions, work stoppage, a battered brand image and, worst of all, data loss. Loss of critical business and customer information can damage giant corporations; for small enterprises—which often lack the personnel and budget to protect against risk—the stakes are higher, and disasters may well put them out of business.
In fact, according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster. That’s why disaster recovery experts recommend that small enterprises develop both an emergency response and business continuity plans, immediately report losses to their local Small Business Administration offices, review insurance coverage, collect critical contact information, create a communications strategy and, most importantly, ensure that records and data are backed up.
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Industry information for this eWEEK Data Points article is supplied by Adir Cohen, CEO of CaaB, a cloud-solution provider that enables any MSP, VAR or hosting company to deliver white-labeled cloud offerings to their customers within a day.
Here are three important steps small businesses must take to achieve disaster recovery capabilities:
Data Point No. 1: Partner with an effective and reliable Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
Disaster Recovery as a Service is a third party that replicates or hosts physical or virtual servers to provide backup in the event of natural or man-made disasters. This Managed Service Provider, an offsite vendor less likely than the client to be impacted by the disaster, provides failover to a cloud computing environment, allowing it to put into action the client’s disaster recovery plan even during total business stoppage. With DRaaS, data needn’t be recovered via the Internet, and applications can be restored in no time. At the same time, the business needn’t invest in its own offsite DR location—DRaaS takes care of that. Both advantages resonate well with small to medium-sized businesses, which usually lack the resources, personnel and budget to set up the needed DR capabilities.
Data Point No. 2: Let DRaaS help you choose and set up your options
No one-size-fits-all solutions exist. Before deciding which DR strategy to implement, take a close look at your company to understand what it really needs. Also, familiarize yourself with these two key metrics:
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO): How much time an application can be down without significantly harming the business. For example, a lower RTO is critical for seasonal retail businesses. But more than the time duration between data loss and recovery, RTO also defines what IT must do to restore the application and its data.
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO): How much time is acceptable to lose data before significantly damaging the business. A shorter RPO is crucial for customer-facing applications. The RPO number decides how frequent data replication should be.
With that in mind, you can now choose among these data recovery options:
- Active-active: Also known as synchronous replication, this option provides a backup site that completely mirrors your own systems. Offering the best RTO, it is called “active-active” because both your production site and backup site are continually active in sharing the load, with the backup site gearing up in case of systems failure to minimize downtime and data loss. The failover is also automatic, not manual, saving valuable time. Downside: Higher cost, more complexity.
- Active-passive: Also known as asynchronous replication, this option stores copies of your data offsite at another company location or the MSP’s data center. Offering the next best RTO/RPO and a lower cost solution, it continually duplicates data, and core activities at the primary site will resume right away. Downside: High equipment cost, some data loss.
These options can be implemented in two ways:
- Combined local and cloud backup: Many organizations moving to the cloud are transitioning from an existing on-premise data center. A less expensive option than cloud-cloud back-up, it maximizes the value of years of capital investments by repurposing the existing site to become the backup site.
- Cloud backup only: Money-saving, time-saving and easy to implement, this option sends a copy of your data over the Internet to an off-site, MSP-hosted, secure server for easy access in case recovery is required. It offers respectable RTP/RPO numbers without having to invest heavily in redundant systems and increasing IT staff workload. Downside: Manual and slower, restoration process.
Data Point No. 3: Conduct DR testing
Disaster recovery goes beyond restoring data and keeping applications working. Whether yours is a small, medium, or large organization, it is critical to test your applications to ensure that they meet your RTO and RPO goals, a chain of communications has been established, and staff is ready. You also need to ensure that the business continues to meet its regulatory and compliance requirements.
By conducting disaster recovery testing, you’re making sure that your DR plan actually works when a catastrophe does occur. Work with your MSP partner to test regularly and thoroughly, set measurable reference points and keep your DR team trained, alert, responsive and agile.
Keep your business up and running at all times with the help of intelligent backup technology, reliable DRaaS partners and a smart disaster recovery strategy.
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