Why disaster recovery is becoming increasingly important
The Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities estimates the cost of natural disasters in Australia is 50% more than previously estimated ($9bn in 2015), and is set to increase to $33bn by 2050 even ignoring the effect of climate change. This means if we factor in the impacts of climate change, it’s highly likely that the figure will shoot up in the next years.
In 2015, the Australian Academy of Science released the latest facts on climate change affecting the country. There’s some alarming information in the report that highlights the increasing risk of natural disasters for business:
- Australian temperatures are expected to rise by approximately half a degree or more by 2030 relative to 1990, bringing more hot days and nights
- Aside from warming temperatures, expect increases in the number, duration and severity of heatwaves.
- The number of extreme fire risk days has grown over the past four decades, particularly in southeast Australia and away from the coast. Future hotter and drier conditions, especially in southern Australia, are likely to cause further increases in the number of high fire-risk days and in the length of the fire season.
- Around 30,000 km of roads across Australia are at risk from a 1.1 metre sea-level rise, with housing and infrastructure at risk valued at more than $226 billion
If those numbers aren’t enough reason to start the process of creating a disaster recovery plan, there are many other threats to business including:
- Equipment Failure – Hardware is not foolproof. Without proper redundancy plans in place it’s a reality that at some point you will likely lose important data or experience significant downtime should servers, desktops or other equipment cease to work.
- Human Error – As the saying goes “to err is human”. A disaster recovery plan relies on this fact and should cover adequate training to reduce the risks of an outage or loss of data as well as a process should a mistake be made.
- Cyber-Attacks and Security Threats – With the rate of cyber-attacks and virus’s that could compromise your systems, implementing a strong disaster recovery plan should protect your data and those of clients should you fall victim.
Experts suggest every business should develop and implement new strategies to not only prepare and respond but to also quickly recover from disasters.
What can you do to protect your business
A disaster recovery or DR plan documents the policies, procedures and actions you need to undertake to minimise the negative effects of a disaster. Its purpose is to prepare your business in the event of extended service outages caused by factors beyond your control including severe storms, bushfires, flooding, data loss, hardware failure and so on.
Preparing your disaster recovery plan
Before you can generate a detailed recovery plan, you’ll need to do the following:
- Perform a risk assessment and/or business impact analysis – This is to identify the IT services that support your organisation’s critical business activities.
- Establish recovery time/point objectives – This contains the targeted duration of time and a service level within which a business process must be restored after a disaster, in order to avoid costly downtime.
Once you have a full understanding of the real impact of a disaster it’s time to develop disaster recovery strategies, followed by procedures and actual plans. The final plan should be tested repeatedly and regularly to ensure it works all the time. Keep in mind that as you add people and new hardware/software to your business, you also need to update and test your plan so you are sure everything is covered.
It important to note that a disaster recovery plan is not just about disaster readiness. DR planning supports other equally important business practices such as:
- Asset inventory – Not many businesses can say they’re keeping tabs on all of their IT assets. With DR planning, you are forced to maintain a comprehensive inventory of all your equipment. This identifies all of your equipment, which hardware can serve as backup in case of emergency, and the assets which are no longer useful. Knowing what you have (and don’t have) can help you make better tech investments in the future.
- Network management – You cannot manage a network if you don’t understand everything about it. Going through DR planning helps you clearly understand the way a network is working, which in turn allows you to remedy issues as they happen.
- Task redundancy – Part of your disaster plan involves making sure at least two people can do any one task. This keeps you covered in an emergency, but it doesn’t have to be a full on disaster for task redundancy to be useful. Being able to identify a critical task done by a single staff members, allows you to think ahead and train other people to do that job if need be.
- Cost savings – If you have good documentation of your IT resources, you’ll be able to manage them better. You can also identify areas where you could save money, particularly if it’s time for a hardware upgrade or you are maintaining more than what your business needs.
- Testing – If you have a disaster recovery plan you can run through what would happen in various scenarios, which allows you to see your recovery in action.
With the Australian climate becoming more volatile, you need to have a working plan in place that will ensure your normal business operations are uninterrupted or can resume quickly during a disaster.
Having a disaster recovery plan is now critical for all businesses. If you don’t know how to start with your disaster recovery plan, we can help.
Contact us for free consultation.