By Nick Contrino • February 10, 2020

3 Steps for Building a Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery Plan

Does your business have a disaster recovery plan?

It may not be pleasant to think about, but there are any number of catastrophic events that could make it very difficult for your company to keep going with business as usual. Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes are all possible, depending what region you’re located in. Or consider the frightening, but real, possibility of a massive cyberattack that results in data theft or loss.

FEMA found that 40 to 60% of businesses that suffer disasters never reopen their doors. And even for those that do, 90% fail within a year if they’re not able to reopen within the space of five days.

The good news is, you don’t need to be part of these sad statistics if you take time to prepare in advance, and prioritize cloud-based storage.

On-premise v. cloud

One major problem that can sink businesses is maintaining all of their operations in one physical location, particularly if that location has been damaged by a natural disaster. If you keep all of your data on a single on-premises server, you can lose that data forever if the server is damaged.

However, Gartner predicted that 90% of disaster recovery operations will run in the cloud by this year, so chances are, you’re already there.

If not, now’s the time to consider secure, cloud-based storage for your proprietary data, using an enterprise-grade cloud storage solution available from companies such as Cisco, AWS, Google, or Dropbox. Using virtualization, you can back up your entire server, including your operating system, application, patches, and data, into one software bundle that can run on a hardware-independent virtual host. This means that, even if you lose access to your on-premises server, your business can be up and running in the space of minutes using your virtualized server.

When choosing a cloud storage solution, security is a key consideration. Make sure that any solution you choose supports advanced security features such as data encryption and two-factor authentication.

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Disaster recovery in the cloud

After migrating your data to the cloud, a natural disaster may still impact paper files and equipment stored in your physical location, so be sure to store important paperwork in a fireproof safe and maintain adequate insurance on any business equipment and property.

While cloud-based data backups shouldn’t be impacted by a localized disaster, it’s still important to build a disaster recovery plan that incorporates your cloud storage services so that you can be operational as quickly as possible in the event of a natural disaster or other catastrophe. Steps include:

  1. Perform a business impact analysis (BIA)
    In the event of a business interruption, you need to be able to prioritize what data is mission-critical for your operation, and which can wait a little longer for restoration. This will ensure that you don’t panic in the event of a disaster and are able to provide clear directions for your IT team to aid the restoration efforts. This template can help you plan.  
  2. Conduct a risk analysis
    How vulnerable is your company to a disruptive event? Look at data to help you understand the implications, such as historical weather data, FEMA reports, and reports of third party vendor cyberattacks. After reviewing available data, you should be able to gauge the different types of scenarios that might impact your business, and get a better sense of how likely each type is to occur.
  3. Build a risk management strategy
    Now that you know what the risks are and the potential impact to your business, it’s important to build an emergency budget and plan to restore your mission-critical data operations, identifying the tools, internal resources, and outside vendors that can help you do this. Make sure you carefully read any vendors’ Service Level Agreements to understand their recovery time objective (RTO)—the acceptable duration for applications to be out of action—and recovery point objectives (RPO)—the acceptable amount of time data is down for, and choose one that offers fast recovery time guarantees within your target budget.

 

Hopefully, you’ll never need to bring your disaster recovery plan into action—but by setting up a plan of attack now, you’ll be well prepared if a catastrophe ever happens.