A small enterprise and rock-solid techs by no means guarantee a speedy bounce-back when unplanned IT failures or other outages occur. Believing they are is a recipe for, well, disaster. Instead, smaller enterprises should take to heart Disaster Recovery (DR) / Business Continuity Planning (BCP) best practices posted on TechTarget’s SearchSMBStorage website.
#1: Determine the Impact of an Unplanned Outage
Start by bringing together execs, IT staff and the accountant or CFO to jointly hammer out a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). Goals include: assigning a financial value to all critical business systems, processes, functions and IT architecture, and calculating losses and other operational fallout for each in the event of failure; you should also establish for all assets something DR pros call a Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which is how long something can acceptably be down, and a Recovery Point Objective (RPO), that is, how much data can be acceptably lost.
#2: Understand Your Risks
Consider any systems or functions that lack redundancies or other protections, and those that couldn’t recover quickly from an outage, to be at risk. Identify these vulnerabilities in your Risk Assessment document; combine it with the BIA to help you in populating the next DR recovery tool--your Recovery Strategy.
The key, TechTarget cautions, is to keep your assessment simple and realistic, being sure to include specific threats that could be caused by your specific geographic location, such as hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, terror attacks, riots and malware of all kinds.
#3: Develop a Recovery Strategy
Projected losses and recovery times typically drive the Recovery Strategy. Functions or applications hosted by a reputable service provider probably have DR contingencies in place and won’t require much space in your Recovery Strategy document. However, those which lack specific, documented recovery provisions must be inventoried and included in your strategy. Backup support, like that afforded by remote data replication and/or standby IT systems hosted at a recovery site, may also be listed.
#4: Document the Recovery Plan
As you might guess, simplicity is the key, since DR teams may find it challenging to create and execute plans that are too verbose or complex. Still, be sure to outline:
- The priorities for system recovery--multiple simultaneous failures are likely, so what’s the optimal recovery and restoration sequence?
- The Recovery Time Objective for each critical function
- Recovery procedures--who takes what actions (and reports to whom) when trouble comes; make sure to include the location of data backups and up-to-date contact information for key recovery team personnel
- Testing dates for evaluating your DR Plan’s strengths and weaknesses