Ask a roomful of CIOs what keeps them up at night, and data disruptions and downtime are sure to be near the top of the list. And for good reasons: a study by consulting firm ITIC found that 40% of large enterprises estimated the hourly cost of downtime at over $1 million.
While network disruptions caused by cyberattacks and data breaches capture most of the headlines, natural disasters can have significant — or even fatal — consequences for many organizations. For businesses operating in the southern and eastern regions of the US, hurricanes can represent the greatest risk of all.
Hurricane Frequency and Severity Are on the Rise
In 2020, 11 hurricanes made landfall in the US, breaking the previous record of nine in 1916. While growing in frequency, hurricanes are also causing more destruction — more than $51 billion in 2020.
Major storms can impact businesses in many ways — taking networks down, causing data loss, destroying infrastructure, and restricting employees’ ability to work. Remediation efforts can take significant time and resources and are not always successful. FEMA estimates that 9 out of 10 small businesses fail if they cannot resume operations within five days after a disaster.
Despite those dire consequences, Gartner estimates that 72% of organizations do not have adequate disaster recovery or data protection capabilities. Another survey found that 29% of organizations with a data recovery plan test it just once a year, and 23% never test it at all.
Don’t wait: Sign up for your free data protection audit.
10 Questions to Ask About Your Current Data Recovery Plan
Data recovery plans have many components, and identifying potential exposure or shortfalls can be a challenge for even the most seasoned IT team.
Here are ten areas to consider when evaluating your plan:
- What are your data restoration targets? Depending on your backup infrastructure, retrieving your data could take as little as one hour — or as much as several days. Setting your recovery targets involves several considerations, such as the cost of downtime to your business, the long-term impacts on your reputation and brand, and the costs of establishing and maintaining your DR infrastructure.
- Where are you backing up your data? Options for backup range from cloud providers to specialized services that replicate your complete environment in an offsite data center. In the event of a hurricane, retrieving your data from cloud providers like AWS may take considerable time, especially if your network and computing infrastructures have been damaged. Some specialist providers will replicate your full hardware, software, and data infrastructure onsite, speeding the retrieval process.
- How often are you performing backups? Backup frequency can depend on the volume and criticality of your data, the cost of data backup, and the ability of your infrastructure to complete backups without impacting your business. For organizations with outdated network infrastructures, frequent or real-time backups can slow network performance to a crawl.
- What is your hardware replacement strategy? While a robust data backup plan is critical, it’s only part of the picture. A hurricane can wipe out servers, storage, and other essential hardware components. The ability to quickly replicate your hardware infrastructure is a major factor in how quickly you can recover from a major storm or other natural disaster.
- How often do you test your disaster recovery plan? While disaster recovery testing takes up considerable time and resources, regular testing will ensure plan viability and help identify potential shortfalls. Outsourcing disaster recovery planning can relieve the internal resource burden for many companies.
- How secure is your data? Data should be encrypted in transit, and offsite storage providers should employ state-of-the-art physical and cybersecurity infrastructures.
- Do you have in-house expertise? Developing and maintaining disaster recovery protocols can require specialized in-house resources and represent a considerable investment in team bandwidth. That’s one reason why many organizations opt to outsource disaster recovery planning and execution.
- What if you switch backup suppliers? How easy is it to repatriate your data if you choose to move to a new backup and storage supplier? It’s critical to maintain control of your data and know you can easily migrate it if necessary.
- Are you employing best-in-class hardware and software? Disaster recovery solutions are quickly evolving to deliver faster and more reliable, cost-effective performance. You should evaluate your infrastructure regularly to ensure you and your providers are leveraging the best available solutions and following established recovery best practices.
- Is your disaster recovery plan cost-optimized? Encrypting, transporting, and storing data is not cheap. An optimized solution will help maintain or even reduce your ongoing operational costs.
The Data Protection Audit — A Smart First Step
Finally, organizations should consider beginning with a third-party data protection audit to assess their current disaster recovery readiness. Specialized providers have the tools, expertise, and experience to identify shortfalls and recommend appropriate remedial actions.
A data protection audit will help your organization to:
- Validate your business goals and establish recovery point and time objectives
- Review the effectiveness of your existing backup solution
- Assess your security posture and ransomware detection capabilities
- Evaluate your hardware and storage infrastructure
- Provide prioritized recommendations based on security, backup, and disaster recovery best practices
Schedule your data protection audit – no strings attached. The audit is done by our data recovery experts and takes 30-minutes or less of your time. Trade thirty minutes of your time to avoid sleepless nights worrying about your data.
Don’t Wait For Hurricane Season
Optimizing your data recovery plan takes time. It can involve allocating budgets and resources, procuring hardware and software, updating processes, and establishing new service provider relationships. If your company is located in areas impacted by hurricanes, you can’t afford to wait until hurricane season to evaluate your disaster recovery plans — you should begin now.
Are you ready for the next Harvey, Sandy, or Katrina?
Path Forward IT offers a free Data Protection Audit that will evaluate your current disaster recovery capabilities and recommend the best ways to optimize your data security and recovery solution. Find out more here.