One major IT lesson so far from this season’s back-to-back hurricanes is the importance of having out-of-region help when it comes to disaster recovery (DR). When faced with a physical crisis — one that requires staff to evacuate or threatens your location — there may be no time for IT to make sure failover to your duplicate site goes smoothly. Safety must come first.
New cloud technologies like disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) weren’t specifically developed to help people stay safe during disasters but they sure do help. Here are some examples, plus three DR must-dos:
If you see the storm coming
Let’s say you’re a PR firm in Miami and the forecast for a hurricane looks grim. You need to make sure your systems stay operational so you can continue to do business during and after the storm. By migrating operations ahead of time from your normal production systems in Miami to your DRaaS solution in Georgia, Texas, Colorado or someplace else far away, you ensure your IT will be up and running even if your business location is not. Your out-of-region DRaaS team handles the migration. You and your team can focus on other things, like their own safety and continuing to serve your clients from their hotel rooms, relatives’ guest rooms or wherever they can get online.
If your industry doesn’t stop moving just because your region lost power
For organizations that operate and compete globally, your local disaster probably won’t even register a blip. Financial services firms, broker-dealers and others whose livelihoods depend on their ability to react quickly to markets, for example, will lose clients if they tell them they weren’t able to complete transactions on time because the firm wasn’t fully prepared for a disaster. Since DRaaS offers near-instant recovery so businesses can be assured of seamless failover when their DR sites are out-of-region — why take the chance with a site that’s in the same area? What’s more, firms that need to be in compliance should not rely on government regulations for their own best practices — regulations don’t keep up with IT realities. To be truly prepared they need to set a higher bar.
If your organization has multiple offices
If you have multiple offices and the region in which your production systems are located are having an emergency, every office will be impacted. If there’s a flood in Houston or New Orleans, for example, having a team who can execute your DR solution in another state or at least several hundred miles away ensures your business can continue to operate in the locations that are not affected by the disaster.
When your organization uses a cloud-based DR solution, your DR provider will methodically bring normal systems to a halt, make sure everything replicated properly, then bring up the DR site. This process can happen very quickly with DRaaS — minutes as compared to hours or even days with traditional DR and duplicate sites. When systems shut down instantly as in during a flood when both the power and backup go down, your IT system and networks take a hard hit. Planned failover to an out-of-region DR site by a team that’s done it hundreds of times before is the safest way to go.
Regardless of whether you’re using DRaaS yet or not, do these three things to prepare for hurricane season:
1. Make sure your RPO and RTO meet your current needs
Make sure your DR plan includes current, realistic numbers for your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). These can evolve as your stakeholders’ expectations evolve. Review them regularly and update your DR plan and capabilities accordingly.
2. Test your plan each year
During an emergency is not the time to test your plan. People will be nervous and might not be thinking clearly, especially if they’re worried about their loved ones. Conduct a complete test regularly and at least annually and revise what doesn’t work.
3. Mitigate risk to your people
As important as your IT operations are, your people are more important. Be realistic when it comes to what they can and cannot handle during a disaster.
When Hurricane Irma threatened operations for a client in Florida with multiple call centers, Leapfrog migrated their main data center to our data center in Atlanta and rerouted the calls from call centers in Irma’s path to call centers that weren’t. For clients who were dealing with power outages, Leapfrog acted as the intermediary with internet carriers and brought systems back up properly once power was restored.
If you would like more information about DRaaS and other cloud-based solutions or how Leapfrog can help your organization execute your DR plan, please let us know.