4 Worst-Case Scenarios That Make the Case For Disaster Recovery

Opinion

It’s a topic frequently heard in board meetings and splashed across the news: storm-related data loss and downtime trigger threats to our IT environments. For instance, last winter in New England caused a scare among executives and IT professionals alike. Record-breaking snowfall and increased risks to regional business data created a huge buzz about the need for inclusive disaster recovery strategies.

As important as this conversation is, a related truth is even more eye-opening: most disasters in IT aren’t due to bad weather, but instead attributed to human error. Common mistakes, disgruntled employees, and malicious attacks by hackers are some of the risks that plague data centers, in addition to the storms and bad weather over which we have no control.

No matter the threat, you need to understand your business’s risk landscape, especially in anticipation of another winter predicted to bring natural disasters, and in the constant battle against employee errors and malicious acts from inside and outside the company. Be aware of these worst-case scenarios that make the case for a solid business continuity and disaster recovery strategy:

1. Ransomware brings down your business. Here’s an example that demonstrates the power of preparedness. One of our partners worked with a catering company that fell victim to a ransomware virus. With the partner’s advice, the caterer had prepared for this kind of emergency with a backup solution that allowed it to identify and restore encrypted files and folders within an hour – saving the company $40,000 in data loss and production time.

With that in mind, ask yourself what your goals for disaster recovery are. Do you have priority files or applications your IT teams should restore first to speed recovery? Do you have a goal for recovery time, should a ransomware virus occur? Evaluate how often you want to create backups and how long your IT functions can realistically be down. For example, if you decide your company will create backups every few hours, you’re also agreeing that in the event of a disaster, you’re okay with losing any work that occurs within those few hours. Is that acceptable, or do you need more comprehensive business continuity to maintain access to customer information and documentation and to avoid losing deals and revenue?

2. Human error disrupts business continuity. Disgruntled or error-prone employees can wipe away important data and cost you millions of dollars in productivity and downtime. For times like these, it’s important to proactively prepare for the worst. Do you need a file restore solution? Would local or off-site virtualization suit your needs best? Regardless, you should consider these questions, among others, to determine the best plan of action. That might even mean considering a hybrid solution through a partnership with a cloud provider for backup. In this case specifically, you must also consider the provider’s capabilities before committing to a partnership.

3. Hurricanes cause critical data loss. More than 500 of our customers in the Northeast could have been at a standstill after Hurricane Sandy. However, because they were ready, those companies continued running their businesses from offsite locations or from the cloud. Some of your business’s most critical data likely lives across a mix of hardware and software, or in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. For example, you might use Salesforce to house your leads and customer information. Since Salesforce is not actively backing up your data, this practice holds an infinite amount of risk for your business when that data goes unprotected. These threats can surface in the event of natural disasters, and some data may never be recovered. A solid backup plan can relieve some of the stress that comes from using these applications.

4. Lightning strikes… twice. We had another end user who was struck by lightning – twice – but the company prevented the subsequent outages from hurting its business both times. Some businesses are not as lucky, even in more likely scenarios that don’t involve recurring lightning. That being said, you should carefully plan and frequently test your disaster recovery strategy. Planning for disasters becomes much simpler if you prepare for likely scenarios. Which weather-related incidents are common in your area? Which projects do you consider a priority should downtime occur? While you can’t always predict what’s going to happen, you can prepare for the probabilities. By assessing these potential problems, you can help your team choose the best backup strategy.

Planning for disasters – weather-related or otherwise – is simple once you assess your risk landscape and goals for disaster recovery. Through careful planning and an understanding of the worst-case scenarios, you can disseminate a comprehensive strategy across your organization, continually evolving as you learn from mistakes.

Robert J. Gibbons Jr. is chief technology officer of Datto, Inc. He manages the company’s development and infrastructure initiatives in support of its comprehensive data backup and protection platform. Follow @datto

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