Safeguarding your Business from Emerging Threats and Unpredictable Events
This guide is divided into four sections to help you chart a path to successful business continuity and disaster recovery planning. You will learn how to build a framework to address disaster recovery events, mitigate risks with the right safeguards, reap the benefits of sound planning, and ask the right questions of a disaster recovery specialist.
While some business disruptions are unavoidable, how you respond to them can have a major impact on your bottom line, or even your survival.
For smaller businesses, a service outage could mean a sudden loss of revenue and a slowdown in sales. For larger enterprises the impact could be more drastic, wiping out millions of dollars in revenue, damaging brand reputation, and curtailing business growth.
According to a 2014 Gartner report, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute (roughly $300,000 per hour) with a single hour of downtime costing over $100,000 for 98% of organizations. But since there are so many differences in how businesses operate, CXOs should know this number for their company. This way you can, at least, make calculated risk assessments about technology investments in security, infrastructure, and maintenance. While you’re at it, don’t forget the indirect costs of IT downtime including interrupting your IT team from delivering future state projects.
With the combination of network breaches, security failures, and natural disasters, the reality is that business interruption is not a matter if, but when. So, what happens when risk becomes reality? Is your disaster recovery plan up to date? Have you made the right investments to safeguard critical assets? Will you be able to recovery in time to minimize losses and save your business?
In this executive guide, we will discuss:
- The growing importance of a well-designed disaster recovery and business continuity plan.
- How proper preparation and infrastructure investment can yield long-term rewards.
- Components of an effective disaster recovery plan.
- The benefits of working with an experienced disaster recovery expert.
Mitigating Risks with the Right Safeguards
Cloud vs hybrid-cloud
If your business is like most, disaster recovery and business continuity are not given the strategic priority they deserve. While creating an effective, robust disaster recovery plan does require an investment in time and resources, it doesn’t demand severe or extreme measures. It requires IT planning expertise, business intelligence and technical know-how.
The planning process begins with a business impact analysis, which inventories and evaluates key elements of your IT infrastructure and business systems to help determine existing capabilities, backup strategies, and business continuity requirements. The assessment will provide insight into the business applications and services that support your company’s mission-critical functions and help prioritize your asset protection and recovery needs.
With the increasingly hybrid nature of today’s IT infrastructures, your recovery approach should include both virtual and physical assets and clearly define your tolerance for downtime. Should an outage occur, you need to have confidence in your recovery plan to know exactly how long it will take for the business to be back online―with systems restored and critical data intact.
While no single strategy can cover all scenarios, detective, corrective, and preventive measures form the foundation of most disaster recovery plans. Preventative measures are critical because they can help mitigate environmental and other risks and stop disasters from occurring in the first place. Implementing the right safeguards upfront helps you better prepare for what needs to happen after a disaster strikes to make a quick business recovery.
A good first step is making sure you have failover capabilities in place for all your digital and connected devices. A common point of entry of many attacks is through outdated firmware on connected devices. Therefore, you’ll want to make you’re your devices and networks are as hardened as possible against cyberattack. Onsite generators, surge protectors, offsite data backup, security monitoring, and fire suppression systems are all proven, effective preventative measures.
At the heart of a robust plan is a guiding document that defines specific procedures and processes to be carried out in event of a disaster. This detailed action plan factors in multiple scenarios with defined steps to mitigate the impact of an event and enables critical business systems and processes to be recovered and restored quickly and efficiently.
A written plan by itself, however, does not guarantee a rapid recovery when disaster hits. Communication and training, along with following proper disaster recovery procedures and protocols, are essential elements of an effective recovery program. It’s essential that everyone impacted by an event clearly understands their responsibilities and the role they play in the recovery effort.
Depending on the extent of your need and availability of resources, closing the gaps between business needs and disaster recovery capabilities can be an extended, protracted process. No matter how long it takes, the effort to create a solid, well-crafted plan will pay dividends far beyond the initial investment.
Cloud strategies can vary greatly from one business to the next, depending on workload demands, security and compliance needs, and existing IT capabilities and resources. For optimum results, begin with the long-term vision. Consider the level of performance and functionality you need your cloud environment to have; your internal resources and budget constraints; and the existing infrastructure you have in place and how you plan to manage it.
- Document business assets.Your disaster recovery plan should contain a detailed prioritized inventory of core business applications and supporting hardware. Each asset should include vendor contact information and support agreements outlining scope of responsibilities so you can restore operations get business systems back online quickly.
- Define downtime tolerance. For each set of applications, determine the acceptable recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO). Understanding these dynamics ensures that you invest in the right level of high availability and disaster recovery for the right systems. Prioritizing applications by level of importance will help accelerate the recovery process. Be sure to test the plan on a regular basis. Your priority levels could shift with updated results.
- Determine and assign responsibilities. Your disaster recovery plan should clearly outline the core responsibilities and roles each party will play during a recovery event. This is particularly important when working with third-party providers. Everyone needs to need to be familiar of each party’s responsibilities to help ensure a fast, efficient recovery.
- Create a communication plan. When a disaster hits, how will you communicate with employees? Will they know how to access the resources and systems they need to execute their assigned duties? In many cases, central communication systems (phone and email) will be impacted and other methods of communication will need to be available. Your plan should outline how communication steps and contingencies to keep staff informed and updated from the early stages and throughout the duration of the event.
- Include disasters into your SLAs. If your IT infrastructure is managed by an outsourced provider, make sure your support agreement details their scope of service and level of responsibility should a disaster strike. Gaining clarity of these details early will help eliminate confusion, optimize internal resources, and speed resolution―typically within a defined timeframe.
- Determine how to handle sensitive data.A key component of your disaster recovery plan is defining the operational and management procedures for safeguarding confidential or sensitive information. The protocols should outline how this protected information will be managed, secured and accessed once the plan has been initiated.
- Test your plan on a regular basis.Your plan should outline the steps, methods, and frequency of your disaster recovery plan will be tested. Infrequent testing can result in substandard performance of your IT environment, putting your disaster recovery plan at risk. It’s better to uncover any issues early on rather than have them emerge during a crisis. Determine what needs to be corrected and continue to test until the process is perfected.
Finding time to focus on the routine functions of disaster recovery and business continuity is increasingly difficult in today’s fast-paced IT environment.
With more than 20 years of experience helping companies bolster IT security, detect performance gaps, and plan for disasters, ZAG is ideally positioned to help ease the stress and burden of disaster recovery planning and testing.
At ZAG, we start with a comprehensive analysis of your business and technology needs. What level of data protection do your business systems require? What storage methods do you currently employ and do you anticipate any near-term changes? What data access procedures do you currently have in place? These details provides the foundation for determining your security needs and forming a disaster recovery plan that delivers an optimal balance between effective asset protection and fast, efficient recovery.
We work with you to identify gaps and weaknesses in your existing strategy, and evaluate the full scope of available options, from cloud-based disaster recovery to other emerging strategies. ZAG’s best practice approach helps you prioritize business needs and downtime tolerance.
With ZAG, you get:
- A detailed analysis of your current disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities
- Managed recovery capabilities for both physical and virtual environments
- Quick failover reducing risk of revenue loss and production downtime.
- Ongoing testing and reporting to ensure continuous recoverability.
- Customized solutions that carefully align with your business and compliance needs
With ZAG’s comprehensive portfolio of business continuity and disaster recovery solutions, our team can assess your existing IT environment and then develop solution that matches your needs and budget.
By assessing the potential impact on business systems, you can prioritize infrastructure and applications and determine accurate uptime requirements.
Protecting your critical business systems is not only a security issue; it is a central business concern. It requires smart investments in technology and resources to address an increasingly complex IT security environment. That’s where ZAG can help.
ZAG is well-versed in the latest disaster recovery best practices to protect IT systems against today’s relentless barrage of cyberattacks. We also have the knowledge and expertise needed to mitigate threats quickly once they have been detected. We can help keep your businesses up and running when a disaster strikes―quickly identifying and correcting vulnerabilities, and restoring data and systems with minimal disruption.
Disaster recovery processes play a central role in enforcing the technical elements of your security policy, such as authorization, access controls, authentication, password complexity, system monitoring, and more. ZAG uses specialized tools to assess the integrity and reliability of your security infrastructure, helping to ensure optimum availability, efficiency and performance.
At ZAG, we start with a systematic approach designed to uncover what systems and applications are most vital to your business and then implementing corrective and preventative measures that align with your objectives. We take into account core infrastructure needs, risk tolerances, and performance requirements as part of a comprehensive, carefully balanced plan.
Our experts will evaluate the performance of your legacy infrastructure and outline your best options. We depict possible disaster situations and analyze the potential impact on business operations.
While creating a successful disaster recovery plan is a long-term effort, you can’t afford to wait. Business interruptions are inevitable. The question is, how will you respond?