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Why You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

Sooner or later, a network disaster will strike. Hence, every business needs a disaster recovery plan (DRP) as part of a comprehensive business continuity plan.

Although an apocalyptic IT network disaster may be unthinkable, a company should plan for its eventual occurrence and remediation. Sooner or later, catastrophe will strike. A lengthy power outage, a cyberattack, or a natural disaster—the result is the same. These events cripple a business by disrupting revenue streams, shrinking its customer base, and damaging its brand value. The longer the disaster lasts, the worse the havoc becomes.

Network disasters aren’t limited to just cataclysmic events. While many consider an IT disaster to be nothing short of a full-blown outage, even performance degradation can create a “domino effect,” leading to network failures.

Hence, every business needs a disaster recovery plan (DRP). A DRP is a pro forma dossier that documents specific directives a company follows when responding to unexpected events like network calamities. A DRP differs from a business continuity plan (BCP) in scope and purpose, focusing on IT rather than contingencies for human resources, physical assets, business operations, etc.

A DRP addresses breaches to IT elements such as servers, networks, mobile devices, and PCs. In sum, a DRP is part of a comprehensive BCP.

Examples of Network Disasters

  • Data Disaster

Data is the lifeblood of a business. If unauthorized intruders gain access to a company’s data, disaster may ensue. Password leaks often presage cyberattacks like ransomware infection and distributed denial of service (DDoS) disruptions.

  • Human Error Disaster

Even experienced IT teams make mistakes. Admin network configuration changes, device misconfiguration, and network configuration losses could disable user interfaces or cause an outage. Try as one may to mitigate its risk, the possibility of human error cannot be eliminated.

  • Network Hardware Failure Disaster

In 2010, a “networking hardware” failure in a PayPal data center severed service to users worldwide for 80 minutes. Fiber cuts happen; in 2018, the entire country of Mauritania was offline (no Internet access) for 48 hours when a submarine cable serving 22 African nations was cut. Reportedly, hardware failure is the leading cause (45%) of unplanned downtime.

  • Environment-Related Failure Disaster

Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on New York and New Jersey in 2012, destroying network infrastructure. Summer wildfires, tornados, and frigid winter weather can do the same. These events impact both the Internet and power grids, and outages may last days or weeks.

  • Cyberattack Disaster

Cyberattacks range from malign phishing emails to DDoS attacks to ransomware. The most infamous cyberattack to date was the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack; criminals held the company’s data hostage until a ransom was paid. As businesses grow more dependent on technology, cybercriminals will have more opportunities to exploit network vulnerabilities.

What is DRaaS?

DRaaS—disaster recovery as a service—is the outsourcing of disaster recovery services to a third-party provider(s). DRaaS is an adaptable and cost-effective turn-key solution increasingly adopted by both enterprises and smaller companies.

An effective DRaaS deployment allows businesses to speedily recover vital data, applications, and network configurations, using emergency points-of-contact within an organization to mitigate damage to stakeholders like customers and employees.

With DRaaS, a company

  • reduces DR costs (no secondary data centers or their related expenses for power, cooling, and bandwidth).
  • attains interoperability; DRaaS solutions are hardware, server, and application agnostic.
  • comprehensive and affordable; a DRaaS solution protects all servers (both physical and virtual). No need to prioritize servers based on mission.

The Cost of Network Downtime

Network downtime is expensive. But how costly is it?

In 2011, a CA Technologies survey found that “North American businesses collectively los(t) $26.5 billion in revenue each year through IT downtime and data recovery.” Also, “the average North American organization lost over $150,000 a year through IT downtime.” Moreover, a recent Ponemon Institute report determined that downtime “can cost an SMB $8,000 to $74,000 per hour.”

DRaaS Helps Avoid Downtime

A business is only as steadfast as its DRP and BCP. Do you know what Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) are?

RTO “is the duration of time and a service level within which a business process must be restored after a disaster to avoid unacceptable consequences associated with a break in continuity.” In other words, how long did it take to recover following notification of an outage? RPO “designates the variable amount of data that will be lost or will have to be re-entered during network downtime.” Naturally, RTO and RPO vary based on a specific company’s needs.

By having a third-party provider replicate your network in the cloud with a DRaaS solution, your company receives timely data recovery and failover when disaster strikes.

Why Your Business Needs a DRP

Downtime and outages have always been expensive. Today, their impact is more critical than ever. When outages occur, a well-planned DRaas

  • minimizes disruptions to normal operations
  • minimizes the magnitude of damage and disruptions
  • plans for operational contingencies
  • provides smooth and speedy restoration of operations

Should calamity strike an SMB without a DRP in place, it’s almost as likely to close as to remain open. What’s more, only 25% of companies that close following a disaster reopen.

So, an ongoing DRP is vital to the success of any business.

Ginger Woolridge
Ginger Woolridge is the Head of Growth at Lightyear, a web-based software that takes the pain out of network infrastructure procurement and management, helping enterprises configure, quote, install, and manage their entire telecom footprint. Ginger is based in NYC.

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