Disaster Recovery

Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery

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The following article covers the basics of why organizations need to take disaster planning very seriously and explains the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery. These are two very important concepts, and knowing the difference between the two can help you plan more effectively for a potential disaster.

Business continuity and disaster recovery are some of the most undesirable tasks relating to business planning yet are crucial to an organization’s wellbeing. Unfortunately, many IT professionals and business executives perceive business continuity and disaster recovery planning as a type of black hole that endlessly consumes time and resources to prepare for an event that probably will never happen, and by the time the true value of these processes become apparent, it’s too late to act. When asked how they prepare for an emergency, organizations often say they back up their data every day. Sadly, this is not enough.

For example, it’s not uncommon for companies to back up their systems and lock the backup tapes inside a fire retarded safe. Fires are amongst the most common catastrophic disasters to affect businesses. Although these safes are fire proof, they won’t stop the backup tapes from melting. In order to be effective, backups must be stored at an off-site location. Many authoritative sources have reported that 80% of companies that suffer critical data loss will close their doors within two years.

In addition to data protection, there are a number of legal, public relations, organizational, and safety considerations that must be taken into account. In the case of an emergency, the chaos often leads the the broken window effect. Unethical employees might see the absence of authority and leadership as an opportunity for fraud or theft. If HR is unable to maintain payroll functionality during a disaster, severe inconveniences could happen to employees that rely on that money to make emergency purchases, such as food, hotel rooms, or transportation.

After an emergency, your organization may be forced to demonstrate to a judge that it had employed disaster planning best practices to minimize damages to employees, customers, and stakeholders. Failure to show adequate preparation can result in severe legal penalties.

As you can see, this is a company wide problem. Preparing for a disaster can be complex and requires a strategic approach.

Although IT is usually in charge of implementing the business continuity and disaster recovery plans, the actual planning process should not be placed solely on the shoulders of the IT department. Without proper insight into the business processes of each department, it’s impossible for IT or anyone else in the company to adequately prepare and budget for a disaster. While it’s said that business continuity and disaster recovery planning should primarily be the responsibility of the IT department, the reasons for this aren’t quite obvious. One of the biggest mistakes organizations often commit is to assume business continuity and disaster recovery should be strictly approached from a technological point of view since it’s managed by IT, but as mentioned previously, disaster planning is a business problem that affects everyone in the company, from the CEO to the front-line working staff.

Since every piece of information that flows through the company will eventually pass through the IT department, IT personnel are in the unique position of having deep insight and understanding of the daily operations of each department, as well as constant communications with key decision makers within those departments. This unique position is the real reason why IT is tasked with disaster planning. Regardless, a plan should be developed and implemented with the support across the entire organization. Without this insight and cross-departmental participation, it’s impossible to put together a proper plan.

So what’s the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery? They both seem very similar and have a lot of overlap, yet they’re quite different. Your organization should know the difference between the two and create a detailed plan for each.

The disaster recovery plan explains how a company will prepare for a disaster, what the company’s response will be in the event of a disaster, and what steps it will take to ensure that operations be restored. This plan must include many scenarios since the causes of disasters vary greatly. This includes deliberate criminal activity, natural disasters, a stolen laptop, power outages, a terrorist attack, etc. There are hundreds of possible disaster scenarios that vary based on culture, geography, and industry. It’s also important the disaster recovery plan be distributed across the organization so everyone knows their role within the plan. When a real disaster occurs, things can get hazy, so everyone must know their own roles within the disaster recovery process, and also know how to take over the roles of teammates who are unable to perform their duties.

The business continuity plan is a fairly new methodology that lays out what steps an organization must take to minimize the effects of service interruptions. When organizations were primarily paper driven, with information processing done through batch processing, they could tolerate a few days of downtime. As technology improved, organizations started computerizing business activities. Organizations required systems that would minimize the impact of unplanned downtime. One of the first events that proved the importance of business continuity planning was the Y2K crisis. Since then, business continuity has been a standard practice of corporate IT planning. A typical example of business continuity would be the electric generators used by hospitals to ensure patients can still be cared for during a power outage. Although the ideal continuity solution would be to have all company servers replicated to a off-site location, this is often unnecessary and prohibitively expensive.

Another alternative would be to triage different business processes and assign resources only to the most critical IT systems. This requires insight to business priorities of other departments. For example, many companies argue that email servers are business critical. But what is the scope in case of an emergency? Do employees only need to send and receive emails? Do employees only need access to email archives? Will employees need access to shared schedules and contact lists during downtime? Will employees be sending and receiving attachments during downtime? How many locations within the organization will require email access? Will email access be provided to employees across the enterprise or only to key individuals?

As scope grows, so does the complexity and cost of maintaining high availability for these systems. If the credit card system at a supermarket goes offline, they can lose a lot of money. But the cost of such an incident rarely justifies the cost of purchasing of a second credit card processing system. A more cost effective solution would be to process credit cards manually with a roller imprinter until the main systems come back online. Within recent years, many companies have started using cloud based applications because of their resiliency and ability to operate when the company’s primary data center goes offline.

That’s the major difference between the two in a nutshell. Disaster recovery describes the steps involved in planning and adapting to potential disasters with a roadmap that restores operations while minimizing the long-term negative impact. Business continuity planning ensures all of the most essential business functions remain available after a disaster until the disaster recovery process can be completed. This will minimize the short-term negative impact of the event on the company, its employees, and its customers.

If your company would like help with its disaster recovery or business continuity planning, contact RackWare.

What is DRaaS and why is it useful?

What is DRaaS?

DRaaS, also known as disaster recovery as a service, is the replication of hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide failover in the event of a man made or natural catastrophe. DRaaS can be especially useful to organizations that lack the necessary expertise to provision, configure, and test an effective disaster recovery plan (DRP).

Why is DRaaS useful?

Millions of businesses around the world encounter some form of natural disaster. Imagine if a power outage, hardware failure, file corruption, human error, earthquake, flood, hurricane, thunderstorm, wildfire, winter weather, or tornado, strikes your data center. Major interruptions like your website going down or losing all your customer data will likely occur.

In Ponemon Institute’s “Cost of Data Center Outages” study, it was reported that unplanned downtime costs organizations an average cost of $8,850 per minute.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported that 43% of organizations affected by a natural disaster never reopen, and 29% of organizations affected close within two years of the occurrence.

DRaaS focuses on a short recovery point objective. This means that the data restored will be as close to its current “now” state as possible. Typical recovery time objectives are within 4 hours and will bring up machines geographically located in a different location. For example, if your datacenter in Florida gets affected by a hurricane, DRaaS ensures your data will not be lost by switching to live mirrored servers in Nevada, which was not affected by the hurricane.

What should you consider when choosing a DRaaS?

  1. Get a performance service level agreement (SLA) - Create a contract between you and your service provider to ensure pre-defined performance (i.e. 1 hour SLA guaranteeing your critical applications will be up and running within an hour).

  2. DRaaS costs are highly variable - Watch out for hidden fees (i.e. retrieval fees that charge per gigabyte which can substantially add up).

  3. Couple DRaaS with data protection - The cloud is an ideal place for long-term data retention because it’s isolated from production data and remote from ransomware.

  4. Pay for only what you use - Choose a provider that offers different DRaaS services for different classes of applications.

  5. Cloud seeding options - With cloud seeding, you can use physical media (i.e. tape, server, hard disks, etc.) to pre-load your data to the cloud and restore a failed local database.

  6. DRaaS can protect cloud applications - Deploy a backup appliance within the cloud and point your cloud applications to backup software in a different cloud facility than where your cloud applications are running.

  7. Include automated test recovery - You should have automated testing at least once a month and after any changes to the infrastructure to ensure your applications will really recovery.

  8. Advantages of purpose-built clouds - Purpose-built clouds have seamless integration between your backup appliances and the cloud, holistic support, and predictable recovery times.

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<p><strong>This infographic was created by <a href='https://www.rackwareinc.com'>RackWare</a></strong><br /><br /><a href='https://www.rackwareinc.com/draas'><img src='https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c1e6c1896e76f8c9319d545/t/5c32a15e70a6adec3ede3e22/1546821986132/Disaster+Recovery+%281%29.png' alt='Top 5 Emerging Trends in the Disaster Recovery Industry' width='950px' border='0' /></a></p>

How can RackWare help?

RackWare develops cloud management software that allows enterprises to migrate applications, provide disaster recovery and backup, and hybrid cloud management.

The RackWare Management Module(RMM) provides enterprises IT resilience by automating disaster recovery and backup to any cloud. Some of our features include:

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Why Rackware?

Improved Resiliency with Better RPO/RTO

  • Significantly improved support over traditional tape backup at a fraction of the cost required to maintain a replicated data center.

  • Multiple recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) options that gives you control over availability and costs. You can ensure that critical applications recover quickly while secondary applications do so in the most cost-effective time frame.

  • Pre-provisioned resources are launched in minutes to ensure a rapid RTO while auto recovery fallback ensures applications return to the primary data center for maximum performance.

Flexibility Between Data Center and Cloud, Physical & Virtual Environments

  • Delivers a truly heterogeneous approach, reducing multiple tools and helping users avoid lock-in of server vendor, hypervisor or cloud provider.

  • Enables users to dynamically scale physical, virtual and cloud resources across private and public environments as computing needs fluctuate, allowing enterprises to get the highest performance and availability out of their cloud.

  • Intelligently leverages cloud solutions for today’s applications.

For more information regarding how DRaaS can help you, contact us.

What is cloud disaster recovery and how does it work?

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What is cloud disaster recovery?

Cloud disaster recovery (CDR) is a cloud-based managed service that helps you quickly recover your organization’s critical systems after a disaster and provides you remote access to your systems in a secure virtual environment.

When it comes to traditional DR, managing a secondary data center can be time consuming and costly. Cloud disaster recovery has changed everything when it comes to traditional DR by eliminating the need for traditional infrastructure and significantly reducing downtime. IT departments can now harness the power of the cloud for immediate spin-up and fail over. This creates faster recovery times at a fraction of the cost.

How does cloud disaster recovery work?

Cloud disaster recovery takes a very different approach than traditional DR. Instead of loading the servers with the OS and application software and patching to the last configuration used in production, cloud disaster recovery encapsulates the entire server, which includes the operating system, applications, patches, and data into a single software bundle or virtual server. The virtual server is then copied or backed up to an offsite data center or spun up on a virtual host in minutes. Since the virtual server is not dependent on hardware, the operating system, applications, patches, and data can be migrated from one data center to another much faster than traditional DR approaches.

How can RackWare help?

RackWare develops cloud management software that allows enterprises to migrate applications, provide disaster recovery and backup, and hybrid cloud management.

The RackWare Management Module(RMM) provides enterprises IT resilience by automating disaster recovery and backup to any cloud. Some of our features include:

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For more information regarding how cloud disaster recovery can help you, contact us.