It may look easy on the surface: protecting your assets with IT Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) is as simple as planning, backup, replication and testing. Well, not so fast.
Key Drivers for BCDR
Before you jump headstrong into a disaster recovery (DR) solution, consider what it needs to do for you, your company and your clients.
Survive unplanned events – from natural disasters and terrorist acts to technology failures and malicious data breaches, your plan must protect against interruption or degradation of IT service. Yet, operational events are the leading cause of IT outages, according to Forrester Research. These include simple loss of power and IT hardware, software and network failures.
Assure IT continuity through regular operations – modern BCDR is increasingly driven by the need for much higher IT service stability and agility. Planned operational procedures like software and hardware upgrades, facilities maintenance, and data center migrations, as well as organizational changes and M&A activities, require IT to be highly adaptive and agnostic of its physical infrastructure and location.
Restore 1) data; 2) infrastructure; and 3) applications – data backup technologies have been developed to minimize backup storage size (deduplication), lower network traffic loads (compression), ensure the security of the data in transmission and at rest (encryption), and ultimately shorten the backup window. Systems replication creates a secondary copy of servers, databases and networks, both physical and virtual. With the proliferation of cloud-based services, it is becoming increasingly common to use multi-tenant cloud disaster recovery services offered by the leading DR vendors, or a hybrid combination of on- and off-premise services.
Leverage virtualization – virtualization of IT environments lets components be protected as a single virtual machine environment. Virtualization highly simplifies disaster recovery solutions, reduces costs and provides stronger assurances of achieving the promised recovery point objective/ recovery time objective (RPO/RTO) based on clearly defined SLAs.
7 Best Practices for Architecting a BCDR Solution
- Plan and Document
Well-documented action plans in cases of planned or unplanned service interruption include detailed recovery procedures and BCDR vendor engagement rules, as well as means of communication and transportation options. When do you declare a disaster? Where are the copies of data, software and licenses stored? What’s the acceptable data loss and how fast do you need to recover? Make sure they are also accessible to your distributed staff in digital form.
- Replicate Applications
Data backup is fundamental to BCDR, and without functioning servers, data is useless. Having a secondary site with all applications and data replicated is one possible solution, but it may not be financially viable for small to midsize businesses. With the power of the cloud, disaster recovery can be offered as a service (Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS), based on multi-tenant remote replication. Leading vendors can guarantee SLA-based availability of your applications and data out of DRaaS data centers through a secure Internet connection.
- Establish On- and Off-site Protection
Protecting locally allows easier access to your data and a generally faster recovery rate. In cases of major disaster or for long-term data retention, you also need to protect your data and applications off-site, preferably in a geographically distant location that will be unaffected by any local event. Hybrid BCDR solutions give you the best of both worlds: an on-site appliance for fast access, plus efficient replication of your environment in the cloud for ultimate protection.
- Automate Recovery Procedures
During an event, key IT personnel may not be available as they take care of their own families. This is why a “push of a button,” process-driven disaster recovery approach offers higher ROI, especially in environments with limited IT resources and expertise. Modern BCDR automation includes conditional dependency tests, parallel threads, manual work flows with notifications, and other elements that make your recovery reliable, repeatable and testable.
- Test Regularly
A disaster recovery solution is only worth the cost if you know that it will actually work; otherwise it is a wasted investment. Even if your plan is perfectly designed and tested on deployment, your environment will change over time. Hardware and software upgrades, network tweaks, personnel training and turnover issues can all affect the success of your BCDR procedures, even in a fully automated environment. Advanced BCDR solutions provide built-in testing facilities, a separate virtual network for testing and test scheduling.
- Secure Backed-up Environment
For locally-hosted BCDR solutions, the security is the same as what you’ve already established for your primary data and applications. Especially for highly-regulated industries, keeping data in the cloud private and secure is a major requirement. Many standards and directives require that organizations protect their data and provide defenses against threats. The data centers used by the DRaaS providers must demonstrate the highest levels of security with a data encryption option to protect data locally, in transmission, and at rest in remote storage facilities, with the proper key management and administration.
- Select BCDR Partner Wisely
It is important to partner with a provider understands your business. Proven and independently validated superior technology and thought leadership can help you avoid doing an extensive research and vendor verification on your own. Check with a reputable IT industry analyst who covers the BCDR space before you make your choice.
BCDR Solutions from Van Ausdall & Farrar, Inc. and Acronis
Powered by the AnyData Engine and set apart by its image technology, BCDR solutions from Van Ausdall & Farrar, Inc. and Acronis deliver easy, complete and safe backups of all files, applications and OS across any environment – virtual, physical, cloud and mobile. Acronis sets the standard for New Generation Data Protection through its backup, disaster recovery, and secure access solutions.