With more data than ever before spread across multiple environments, it can be challenging for organizations to gain visibility into what data they have and where it’s located — much less ensure it’s protected from a natural disaster.
According to IDC’s 2019 State of IT Resilience Survey:
- 91 percent of respondents reported a technology disruption in the past two years, with 74 percent suffering some organizational impact.
- 56 percent of respondents experienced unrecoverable data within the last three years.
Unfortunately, organizations cannot afford to ignore this problem.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of protecting your data from disasters and recommend steps for achieving better data protection.
Protecting the future of your organization
Our experts have talked about the importance of transforming into a data-driven organization and leveraging data to inform decision making and drive digital transformation.
As data increasingly becomes embedded in business processes and operations, the greater influence it has on an organization’s overall success.
So, imagine your organization lost that valuable data. What would be the consequences?
- Inability to make critical business decisions?
- Loss of market share?
- Damaged reputation?
- Compliance or regulatory fines?
These kinds of serious repercussions can happen overnight if an organization hasn’t taken the necessary steps to protect their data from natural disasters.
The recent winter storm in Texas that wreaked havoc on the state's critical infrastructure is a grim reminder of the importance of a well-constructed Business Continuity Disaster Recovery (BCDR) plan and proactively safeguarding data from periods of interrupted service.
An effective BCDR plan acts as an insurance policy for organizations during natural disasters and other emergencies by minimizing or even preventing data loss and the downstream impact on business operations.
While many organizations have a BCDR plan in place, we've found it often lacks the robustness needed to fully recover from these events.
At WWT, we’ve helped many organizations improve their BCDR plans and data backup strategies by following three crucial steps that ensure data is protected before, during and after disaster strikes.
Step 1: Understand the impact of disruption
To create a strategic plan, organizations must first understand how a natural disaster might impact their applications and processes.
By conducting a business impact analysis (BIA), organizations can predict the consequences and revenue impact from a disruption of business functions and associated processes. Every application and process is assigned a risk profile, including its maximum tolerable downtime (MTD), and the resources required to resume processes as quickly as possible.
This helps organizations identify and prioritize top-tier applications for investment in recovery, prevention and mitigation strategies.
Step 2: Update business continuity planning based on BIA findings
As business requirements and priorities shift, so should an organization’s business continuity plan. In other words, if the BIA findings reveal new top-tier applications and data, then the business continuity plan must adapt to support them.
A good place to start is revisiting service-level agreements (SLAs) to ensure they’re aligned to business priorities. Consider asking:
- Are there gaps in protecting our data?
- How many copies of the data do we have, and where are they located?
- Do top-tier applications and associated data have the appropriate performance to fully recover?
At this stage, organizations should also update instructions for maintaining operations and develop a communication plan for alerting the business when it’s in crisis mode.
Step 3: Select the right disaster recovery (DR) technologies
Once organizations understand the potential impact on their data and how much downtime they can afford during a disaster, they can begin evaluating DR technologies.
There are two key metrics to consider when selecting the right DR solution:
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
RTO is the amount of time it takes to restore all applications and data after an interruption of service. RPO is the maximum amount of data loss; this number determines the frequency of data backups.
Based on the information from the BIA and the business continuity plan, organizations can set RTO and RPO thresholds for each application and process that ensure business continuity. These thresholds can help organizations prioritize how and when they conduct data backups and determine the right technology needed to support DR.
Avoid a data disaster
While we can't control when disasters strike, we can control how we prepare for them.
Developing a comprehensive BCDR plan requires a thorough analysis of your data to understand what’s at stake during a natural disaster; continuously reviewing and revising SLAs, procedures and policies; and evaluating, testing and implementing new DR technologies.
A trusted partner like WWT can help simplify and accelerate BCDR planning. By leveraging our established BIA process and the impressive capabilities of our Advanced Technology Center (ATC), you can gain data resiliency faster and be confident that your business is prepared when disaster strikes.