Given the recent spate of extreme weather throughout the country, now is as good a time as any for IT professionals to reflect on data protection. Unpredictability is Mother Nature’s status quo, but it’s up to the IT personnel to anticipate and address severe weather events and how they’ll affect business continuity.
The Keys to Swift Recovery
Even in areas that rarely suffer from severe weather patterns, it’s important to maintain a means for protecting and recovering critical data under extreme weather circumstances. By having a comprehensive business continuity plan in place, IT teams can confidently face bouts of extreme weather that would otherwise disrupt business operations and leave the unprepared scrambling.
Comprehensive disaster planning and testing are two important factors for maintaining business continuity. The following describes the basic steps necessary for assuring a successful and swift recovery from weather-related data losses:
- Identify potential storms that could impact operations (winter snowstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.)
- Estimate the time required for a full data restoration
- Prioritize critical recovery tasks
- Choose between file restoration, local virtualization, or off-site virtualization for disaster recovery (DR)
When choosing between file restoration, local virtualization, or off-site virtualization, IT professionals should consider the pros and cons of each DR option. It’s also important to know whether reinstating certain priority files or applications would take precedence over other restoration tasks.
Redundancy is also a key part of the recovery process. Ideally, businesses should invest in DR plans that offer multiple layers of redundancy. The purpose-built DR environments offered by managed service providers (MSPs) feature robust redundancy measures, reducing the level of risk and uncertainty that often comes with the data recovery process.
Small- and medium-sized businesses that rely on third-party cloud apps for collaborative efforts may want to rethink the security and continuity of their data. Organizations that rely heavily on these apps must also accept the risk of accidental deletion or data corruption. In addition, some apps may be lacking in protective redundancy.
For IT teams, the post-recovery period should be a time for checking and double-checking the user experience prior to bringing everything back online. IT personnel should check in with users to verify that they can properly access resources and applications from the virtual environment. Certain data protection technologies also utilize screenshot verification to ensure everything interacts in a safe and secure manner.
Businesses should also consider what conditions may be like on the following day and even several days afterwards. For example, severe snowstorms can leave both major and minor roads impassable, making it nearly impossible for off-site staff to facilitate recovery efforts. As part of a comprehensive business continuity plan, businesses may arrange for key staff to remain on location overnight, arrange for remote staff access, and/or verify 24-hour vendor support availability.
Having a business continuity plan in place could mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major event that could cost thousands of dollars in downtime costs. IT teams should also run drills to keep everyone up to speed on their roles in the DR process.