Developing a disaster recovery plan for small businesses

Victoria Oresanya
20 Sep, 2021 - 0 Comment(s)

Businesses need to plan for when disaster strikes. Whether it’s a fire, a major flood, or a cyberattack, there’s always a chance that something could happen that disrupts their operations.

This is particularly important for small businesses. Available data suggest that between 40% and 60% of SMEs without a set response plan for a major disaster will shut down permanently when that disaster happens.  

Organizations that want to recover quickly from these events should have a Disaster Recovery plan in place. Such a plan enables them to cope, and bounce back within the shortest possible time.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A Disaster Recovery (DR) plan is a document that’s created by an organization, detailing the steps it will take to ensure that it quickly resumes work in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

The principal aim of such a plan is to ensure the recovery or continuity of vital organizational infrastructure, including IT systems. Unless these resources are brought back to functionality, the affected business will struggle—and fail –to run normally and serve its customers.

A critical part of the Disaster Recovery process is safeguarding or replicating data that may otherwise be lost when a disaster strikes. In the past, this involved a lot of physical work, from recalling data stored in hard drives to setting up IT infrastructure in a physical location, getting support staff to conduct maintenance, and engaging security to protect the facility.

These steps are costly and time-consuming. But today, businesses can bypass these processes by leveraging cloud Disaster Recovery.

Cloud Disaster Recovery: The Basics

Cloud Disaster Recovery works because it involves recalling and using data and applications that have been backed up in the cloud.

If the cloud is supported by infrastructure located on a different site from where the disaster struck, it will enable the organization involved to resume its workloads within a few hours or even minutes of the disruption occurring.    

There are three approaches to cloud Disaster Recovery (DR): cold DR, warm DR, and hot DR.

Cold DR is the simplest of the three approaches—it just involves storing data or virtual machine (VM) images. But its recovery process is the most time-consuming of the lot, as users will have to download the stored data when a disruption happens—a process that may take a long while to complete.

In Warm DR, data and applications are duplicated, and these duplicates are stored with a cloud DR provider. They are also updated to conform to the originals. When a disruption happens, they can be accessed from the DR provider on a virtual machine (VM). This may take just a short while, but there’s still some downtime experienced.

In Hot DR, both the primary data and the DR site are running simultaneously. When there’s a disruption to the former, the latter remains active, and work can continue on it without any downtimes. This provides the quickest resolutions of the three alternatives, but it’s also the most expensive of them. 

Besides the time savings that come with cloud DR, there’s also the benefit of backing up data in multiple locations, the ease with which cloud DR can be implemented, and the fact that it’s scalable.

Creating a Cloud Disaster Recovery Plan: The First Steps

Although cloud-based Disaster Recovery planning is often thought of as the preserve of large companies, small businesses are apt to develop a DR plan that will work for them. As has already been noted, it will protect them from a lot of losses, and strengthen their push for business continuity.

The first step to take in creating a Disaster Recovery Plan is to assess existing IT infrastructure. Things to note include their specifications, quantities, how much each asset is worth, and where they are stored. It’s also important to note possible risks to them, whether this is prolonged power outages, natural disasters, or cyberattacks.

Next, businesses will want to analyze the possible impact that a disaster could have on their operations. Two things have to be considered here.

First, the Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which is the upper time limit for when operations have to be restarted or else the business would begin to be negatively affected. There’s also the Recovery Point Objective (RPO), which is the maximum amount of time a business can bear data loss due to a crisis.

The smaller the RTO and RPO are, the more significant the effects of a disaster on the business tend to be. 

After ascertaining what the RTO and RPO are, the business may proceed to create a DR plan based on them. For example, if these indices are much shorter, the organization in question can plan around having a Hot DR approach. But if these indices are longer, they could settle for a warm DR or even a cold DR.

Getting Expert Help: Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

Often, a Disaster Recovery plan will have to include working with a vendor that provides Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). They could help with the next stages of the cloud DR plan, including building cloud DR infrastructure and putting the Disaster Recovery plan on paper.

A good deal of the planning process remains the responsibility of small businesses. For example, they will have to test their plan often to ensure that it works well. This may be done quarterly.

Yet, DRaaS providers play a key role. Working along with these vendors, smaller organizations can design a plan that’s suited for them, and their plan with minimal hiccups.

When choosing a DRaaS partner, SMEs will want to go for one that’s reliable, provides service that scores high on usability and scalability, and makes setup and recovery as easy as possible. These factors are crucial for making DR plans a success.

Layer3Cloud takes care of these concerns with its DRaaS offering. Its product guarantees the restoration of service within minutes, the limitation of outages, and the security of virtual operating environments. It’s flexible and scalable and assures users of significant geo-redundancy.

Let’s help you protect your business’s IT assets from disaster. Get in touch with our consultants here.