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Tips for a solid disaster recovery plan

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Australian organisations face many potential disruptors to daily operations, including natural disasters, cyber-attacks namely ransomware and power and telecommunication outages. To avoid downtime and ensure continuous operations, it’s key to have a solid disaster recovery plan in place.

The costs of downtime and data loss can be exorbitant. In 2014, these interruptions cost Australian organisations $65.5 billion (US$55 billion), and caused an average of three working days (72 hours) of unexpected downtime per organisation, according to research conducted by Vanson Bourne.[1]

Businesses need to be prepared in order to mitigate the impacts of IT downtime and data loss. Providing high priority protection for every area of the business is unrealistic from a cost perspective. That’s why it’s important to prioritise and to develop a solid disaster recovery strategy.

At Brennan IT, we believe every disaster recovery (DR) plan should include the following:
1. Redundancy


With technological advances, redundancy has become an easier and more cost-effective capability. Building redundant systems in the past required companies to buy multiple servers and maintain expensive secondary failover data centres. Server virtualisation has removed the requirement for duplicate server hardware. It is now easier to shift key servers between sides for additional capacity and to maintain operations in the event that primary systems fail.


2. Business continuity


Many hosting providers offer highly-scalable platforms on which companies of all sizes can build DR environments. If a disaster occurs at the main business premises, key systems can be redirected to the hosted environment and the business can resume operations as quickly as possible.

Cloud platforms also provide a scalable environment with internal redundancy and support for business continuity. More and more businesses are migrating key systems to the cloud, knowing that the systems will be available even if critical infrastructure is affected at the primary location. In addition, it is important to know where your cloud provider’s data centres are located. For Australian organisations, keeping data stored within the country’s borders can provide greater disaster protection.


3. Documentation


Good documentation is essential for a functional DR plan. It’s important to methodically document the IT infrastructure, key applications, and hardware they run on; information about related support and technical contacts; and server and application configurations. Developing recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) can also help in the face of disaster, so everyone knows exactly when systems will come back and what data is affected. All of this documentation should be readily available, in paper form or hosted offsite, to ensure it is available when required.


4. Prioritised business functions


In working through a DR assessment, it is important to know what you should document and when to stop, so you don’t mask your core business priorities. We often suggest to customers that they prioritise each business function and its likely impact, should it be interrupted. Mapping out internal dependencies and potential alternative suppliers or staff that can be brought on if necessary can also help businesses function in the face of a disaster.


5. Clear internal communications


In all DR activities, communication is imperative. Your DR plan must involve clear communications with employees about various contingencies. Employees need to know what to do to resume operations as quickly as possible. It’s also equally important to communicate with suppliers and partners to ensure all parties have active DR plans in place that offer support to one another.

1. Testing and optimisation


Most importantly, when it comes to business continuity, you must test your business recovery plans in real-world scenarios and use the insights that emerge to continually optimise your DR plan. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]



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