Disaster Recovery: September Is National Preparedness Month

By Laurie Head

AIS Network VP, Marketing Communications

FACT:  Every year, businesses lose billions of dollars due to data loss.

Since 2004, National Preparedness Month has been observed every September in the United States.

Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Preparedness Month urges people to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their businesses, homes, schools and communities.

To prepare for potential disasters, either natural or man-made, start by creating a business continuity plan – essentially a playbook that spells out how to stay in business following a disaster.  Having a plan enables a business to restore operations and communications systematically while helping minimize the risk of a serious financial loss and a damaged reputation.

As part of that plan, incorporate the steps needed to safeguard your IT infrastructure from disaster, highlighting clear backup and recovery measures.  First, ensure that data and apps are routinely backed up in a secure, off-site environment, not in the physical office.  For this, the cloud is faster than other options and offers the most protection at the lowest cost.  Next, develop and implement a disaster recovery plan to prevent data loss in the event the business suffers unexpected downtime.

AISN’s Disaster Recovery Checklist helps businesses plan for unexpected downtime:

  1. Identify the Risks.   List and categorize threats associated with disasters and their impact on various systems.
  2. Inventory IT Assets.  Which are most critical to maintaining business continuity?  What’s your tolerance for loss of those assets?  The cost of the response should be balanced against your tolerance for system downtime.
  3. Define Goals.  If a disaster strikes, how long can your business shut down?  Does it need to recover off-site?  Define goals in terms of RPO (Recovery Point Objective, “How much data can we lose?”) and RTO (Recovery Time Objective, “How long can we be down?”).
  4. Develop a Plan.  Include “IT Assets Inventory,” data protection procedures and contingency plans, notification/activation schedules, a list of roles and responsibilities, a list of resource requirements and details about training provisions.  A good plan includes maintenance and backup/recovery testing schedules – all delivered in time.
  5. Understand the Cloud’s Benefits.  Virtualization technologies make backup and disaster recovery vastly faster, cheaper and easier.
  6. Implement the Plan and Get Executive Buy-In.  If executives understand the consequences of system disruptions, you can win their support and funding for contingency policies.
  7. Test the Plan.  Testing and keeping plans updated will help ensure business survival.