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6 Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Disaster Recovery Plan

You can plan for it, you can train for it, and you can create as many systems designed to prevent it as you want, but at the end of the day, disasters still occur, and they happen when we least expect them. Whether it’s a natural disaster that knocks a data center offline, or a cyberattack that ravages critical systems, there’s no shortage of damage that can happen to the business. In fact, Gartner cites that companies can lose an average of $5600 per minute in an outage–equalling out to a whopping $300,000 per hour.

To ensure you’re properly prepared to cope with any disaster that comes along, it’s imperative to have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in order to get back up and running as soon as possible. To make sure your plan is airtight and isn’t leaving any room for error, there are several questions you should ask along the way. We’ve compiled a list of six of the most important ones to consider.

1. Does your disaster recovery team have defined roles?

As a main part of a disaster recovery plan, having a team with defined roles is key. When sketching out these roles, it’s important to consider each individual’s’ responsibilities and limits of authority. At the same time, It is equally necessary to have an established communication plan. This includes having contact information for the team readily accessible at all times, with everyone’s responsibility and how to get in touch with them clear spelled out. Having clearly defined roles along with a concrete communication plan will make carrying out a disaster recovery plan infinitely easier from the get-go.

2. Are you prepared for unexpected expenses?

disaster_imgWhile the occurrence of a disaster itself is unpredictable, it can also bring about unanticipated costs to get back online as well. Do you need to failover onto the cloud? You’ll have to prepare for the usage fees associated with it. Do you need to bring in consultants or contractors to assist in getting back online? You’ll have to pay them just as much, if not more than your employees.

Every minute of downtime can result in huge IT expenses, especially for larger enterprises. Taking into account these unplanned expenses ahead of time and building them into the overall disaster recovery plan is critical to ensure your team doesn’t meet any further snags when trying to get authorization for these costs. To learn more about budget spending, take a look at the 5 ways to save millions on data protection.

 3. Is your data mobile?

When a data center goes offline, your data may have to temporarily go elsewhere–i.e. the cloud–in order for the company to access it again as quickly as possible. In other words, you should ask yourself if your data is confined to your physical infrastructure, or if it’s mobile and can move freely to different locations.

Data mobility means immediate and self-service data access that enables accelerated application development, faster testing and business acceptance, more development output, improved productivity and improved time-to-impact business intelligence. Paul Stringfellow, Technical Director at Gardner Systems, suggests implementing a concept he calls data fabric. He defines data fabric as “a strategy rather than a technology….that provides us complete mobility of our data between many data repositories with the minimum amount of tools.” Without data mobility, we run the risk of higher costs and lost time.

4. Do you know what the biggest vulnerabilities to your data are?

When creating a disaster recovery plan, it’s important to be aware of what is most likely to go wrong and focus on those vulnerabilities so the plan can be as valuable as possible. Some examples of the most common data vulnerabilities include deployment failures, database inconsistencies, and data leaks. Honing in on the vulnerabilities you see as the biggest threats to your organizations and finding ways to avoid them will make for a much smoother disaster recovery process.

At the same time, it’s essential to take a holistic view of your infrastructure and make sure you’ve covered every base with your DR plan, even the smaller, least expected ones. As Murphy’s Law states: Anything that can go wrong, will.

5. Have you validated your plan/does it actually work?

Once all of the above questions have been considered, testing the plan to make sure it rolls out successfully is mandatory. After testing, analyze the result to see if the plan performed according to specifications. After analyzing the outcome, are there any areas that need to be improved? Once you’re done with the analysis, test again and again. Testing a plan should be done consistently on a regular basis so the plan can evolve to be the best it can be.

6. Are your systems up-to-date?

Finally, having up-to-date systems is essential to have a strong disaster recovery plan. Do you have the most modern backup and recovery solution or is it just another one of the same old solutions that don’t work? Considering the newest technologies such as copy data virtualization will bring the way you manage disaster recovery plan to the next level.

The risks associated with poor disaster recovery, such as data loss, unforeseen budget expenses, and loss of customer trust can be avoided by taking all of these questions into consideration during planning. Having the ability to recover as quickly as possible while minimizing downtime and expenses will make the lives of IT team easier, as well as the entire organization.

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