Disaster Recovery: Make the Case to Add it to Your IT Budget

  • People tend to think “Disasters happen to someone else.
  • Sometimes, someone just makes a mistake.
  • With a cloud consumption model, you can decide what gets protected, how often and how or if it’s brought online in the case of a disaster.

Business leaders across the globe may think disaster recovery (DR) is too expensive, too complex or that a disaster is unlikely to impact them. Yet human error, cybercrime or a natural disaster can cause their company’s digital infrastructure to come crashing down in a split second. Then what?

The Reality of Disaster Recovery (DR)

Every year, IT teams are challenged to do more with less. The number of projects, advances and business requirements for IT grows, and it is a struggle to fit it all into the budget. One line item that is often cut is disaster recovery. People tend to think “Disasters happen to someone else. We’ll get around to it next budget cycle.” The reality is that DR is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. IT has become a fundamental piece of every business and it is critical to be always available for your internal and external users.

When people think about disasters, they initially think of major natural disasters, such as hurricanes or flooding. But, most disasters come from less extreme but potentially more damaging factors such as:

  • Hardware faults – Every piece of hardware is rated for five nines of
    availability, but what happens if something fails? How does that impact what
    is running on it? What if there is data corruption because of it, or hardware
    replacement is more than four hours away?
  • Software faults – Let’s be honest, no software package is perfect.
    Between integration into multiple systems, patches, vulnerabilities and
    common errors, what happens if your primary application has an issue that
    potentially loses data or fails to start?
  • Malicious software – You can’t read the news without hearing the latest
    security vulnerability or worse, a ransomware or cryptolocker scare. If your
    organization’s data is held hostage, how will you recover?
  • Malicious users – You hope that no one would ever intentionally do
    something to compromise customer or employee data, but it happens. With
    no recovery options in place this can be a burden on IT to resolve quickly,
    while also dealing with the human aspect of the disaster.
  • Accidents – Sometimes, someone just makes a mistake. It happens to
    everyone. Some mistakes are minor and can be solved easily, while others
    are more pressing and require immediate IT intervention.

“Although there’s no magic answer on how much impact downtime will have on your business, current industry surveys have shown that the average enterprise estimates an impact of approximately $5,600 for every minute of unplanned downtime in its primary computing environment.”

IT Resiliency

Every organization has backups, and many feel that is all they need to protect their environment. When looking at budget items, DR becomes an insurance item for something that hasn’t happened so far and companies decided to pass and roll the dice. Backups are necessary for multiple reasons – long-term retention, file recovery and even system recovery. But backups are not disaster recovery. For a complete, fully resilient business continuity solution, organizations must employ both backups and Disaster Recovery.

Cloud Makes Disaster Recovery (DR) Affordable

Any event that could negatively impact operations should be included in the Business continuity plan, such as supply chain interruption, loss of or damage to critical infrastructure (major machinery or computing /network resource). As such, BCP is a subset of risk management. In the US, government entities refer to the process as continuity of operations planning (COOP). A Business Continuity Plan outlines a range of disaster scenarios and the steps the business will take in any particular scenario to return to regular trade. BCP’s are written ahead of time and can also include precautions to be put in place. Usually created with the input of key staff as well as stakeholders, a BCP is a set of contingencies to minimize potential harm to businesses during adverse scenarios.

Historically, one of the biggest hindrances to creating a Disaster Recovery (DR) solution was the enormous capital expenditure cost. This was usually seen in the budget and immediately cut out for being too expensive. Finding a secondary site or co-location, buying double the IT infrastructure gear, power, software and maintenance doubled an IT project’s cost and DR became the first thing that was cut. The cost in man hours to configure, test and maintain a full second site just for disasters made the cost astronomical. As virtualization modernized the data center, it had huge benefits in disaster recovery. Now, you can protect your environment practically anywhere.

Another significant benefit to cloud Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is in the ability to tier your workloads for the proper RPO/RTO and manage costs based on that. If you are building a secondary site, you still need to purchase everything up front whether it’s your tier 0 mission-critical app, or those development servers that get used once a month. With a cloud consumption model, you can decide what gets protected, how often and how or if it’s brought online in the case of a disaster.

Do More With Disaster Recovery (DR)

As you begin to justify the cost of Disaster Recovery (DR) and why it should remain in the budget, there are other things to consider that will further extend the value of a cloud-based DRaaS solution. Newer technologies that allow for seamless testing without impact give your IT team true flexibility beyond just simply testing. Because a DR test is an identical copy that is brought online in the cloud and isolated from your production environment, you can use that copy to perform many of the intrusive, out-of-band testing that was previously impossible. This feature to make a copy also has the benefit of not impacting the actual data replication, so your tests can be run with the knowledge that in case of a true disaster, you will still achieve the RPO goals set without any interruption. You can also run vulnerability scans or other data intensive file analysis scans and use those reports to remediate the production environment. When it comes to patch management or new software rollout, being able to fully test your upgrade on an identical copy of your production environment without impacting actual production is a huge boost to a successful upgrade or deployment. If there are any problems, they can be addressed in the cloud copy before the actual roll out. Environments can even be spun up for testing and user feedback.

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