What is a disaster recovery service and why does your business need it?

15 Sep 2020 Lumina Technologies

A disaster recovery service will help you get back up and running in the event of a disaster. There is an important distinction between disaster recovery and business continuity.  Disaster recovery being the time and plan to recover from the event which has impacted service. Business continuity being how your business continues to provide service during an event. 2020 has certainly taught us the importance of having a disaster recovery plan – and those companies who were caught unawares had to learn this the hard way.

The definition of a disaster however does not have to be on the scale of a global pandemic. 

A disaster could be something as simple as a power cut – CEO Today estimated that the power outages in the UK last an average of 50 minutes, on top of which your staff will need time to get back up and running and retrieve lost data. If you have planned what you are going to do in such an event, you will be able to get back to business as usual much more quickly. 

What is a disaster recovery service?

A disaster recovery service is essentially anything you will need to do in order to turn your disaster recovery plan into a reality. A basic requirement is to have an effective backup system in a remote data centre to minimise or eliminate the loss of data. Other provisions will depend on the specific requirements of your company. If, for example, your building suffers frequent power outages, the provision of a backup generator could be a useful investment to enable you to keep your business running. 

How much do you need to invest?

How much you need to invest in your disaster recovery service needs to be comparable to the perceived risks to your business, how likely they are to happen and what you are prepared to do to mitigate the effects. In an ideal world, your company would have a fully operational backup office that your staff could relocate to at short notice. But obviously this is a luxury not many businesses can afford!

A more cost-effective solution would be to store spare laptops which have been set up in advance and are ready to be distributed in case staff cannot get into the office and need to work from home. 

In the light of lockdown, many companies are now contemplating the move to a hosted desktop solution that offers the flexibility needed for agile working practices – a benefit that came into its own during lockdown. Companies already using hosted desktops at the beginning of this year had a huge advantage when everyone was suddenly forced to work from home – staff were able to seamlessly move from their company computers to their home laptops, working  on a familiar desktop, not experiencing any change in speed whatever their broadband connection, and without any cybersecurity concerns that would normally result from people using personal devices to access their work account. 

The importance of testing

How long can your business tolerate being down for? If your current disaster recovery solution doesn’t take this timing into consideration, you could be in for a nasty surprise. That is why it is crucial to test your solution to make sure it will work.

If, for example, your company can only tolerate being down for half a day, you need to make sure that your recovery plan doesn’t actually take longer than that to take effect. For example, if you do have a backup office that is geographically distanced, it may theoretically take an hour to drive there, but what if there is a lot of traffic or road works that will slow everyone down? 

So a vital part of the disaster recovery service is to work out the logistics and also to test that everything will go to plan, that the backup system will work, and that your staff understand what will be expected of them and will do what they need to. 

As we have seen this year, many businesses weren’t ready for a lockdown, principally because no one had really perceived it was a possibility. Now it has happened, companies are better prepared for it to happen again, but there are many potential scenarios to plan for in order to enable your business to get back up and running as quickly as possible no matter what happens. 

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