Organisations need to realise that business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) entail entirely different strategies with both being vital to keeping a business operational in a globally competitive marketplace.

This is according to Shaun Searle, country manager: African regions at Redstor, who explains that BC ensures the company can continue during a disaster by getting things up and running as quickly as possible.

These disasters can be natural (fire, flood, or earthquake) or man-made (hardware failure, data breach, or ongoing power failures); essentially anything that can bring an organisation to a standstill.

DR forms part of this. It is the capability of the company to restore data and critical applications in the event its systems are destroyed when disaster strikes. The focus revolves around vital support systems, such as communications; hardware; and IT assets getting back to normal in the shortest time possible.

“When it comes to BC and DR options, sizing the solution becomes key. A software-only option can help with this as it requires no additional on-premise infrastructure and can back up large data sets and complex environments, while ensuring compliance.”

Prioritising options

However, he cautions that very few solutions can perform both backup and DR effectively.

“Most specialise in one area or another. For example, you can get rapid recoveries at the expense of efficient long-term retention, or you get efficiency at the expense of restore speed. But the most important thing is that something needs to be done considering that Gartner estimates the average cost of downtime at $5 600 per minute and growing.”

With customers less brand loyal than in the past, they are likely to move to a competitor when having a negative experience as a result of downtime or data loss.

“If data is lost, a business must be able to serve it up immediately, on demand, and with minimal effort from the user. Historically, these capabilities were only available to businesses that could afford an enterprise-grade data management solution. Fortunately, as technologies have evolved, such systems are more affordable to businesses of all sizes. Of course, the focus must be on the most critical files that need to be accessed first.”

While companies work on these files, the remaining data must be intelligently restored in the background without any delays, downtime, or disruption.

Planned approach

“Beyond effective solutions, one of the most important steps in putting together BC and DR plans is to ensure they are tested. This is vital to understanding additional aspects that may be missing, understand in greater detail the timeframes behind planned steps, and give decision-makers greater peace of mind.”

Best practice dictates that solutions are in place that allow for simple, on-demand testing with no limited functionalities or additional costs.

“It also makes business sense to avoid using separate solutions for backup, disaster recovery, and archiving. With an all-in-one data-management technology, a business will be able to access all its data, whether on-premise or in the cloud, instantly, through a single control centre.”

Ongoing review

Furthermore, BC and DR plans are not things done once and forgotten about.

“Key personnel need to come together once a year, if not more frequently, to review the plans and discuss any areas that must be modified. Additionally, companies might want to consider using technology that can be deployed quickly as an onsite solution, a fully cloud-based software-as-a-service solution, or a hybrid of the two.”

Cloud-based technologies require no upfront capital investment and no additional hardware. This means organisations avoid the expense of duplicate data centres and failover infrastructure that sit idle most of the time. However, it is prudent to find a provider whose charges are based on a simple subscription model with no bandwidth costs or charges for restores.

“It is important too to check that there is unthrottled access. Some providers limit the speed at which companies can download or stream data. They must make sure they can receive access as fast as possible so operations can continue uninterrupted. Irrespective, decision-makers today cannot afford to ignore either BC or DR strategies. The longevity of their organisations depends on it.”