Disaster Recovery is one of the most important solutions that businesses deploy. Not only does DR help to protect your data, it keeps your business operational in the event of an attack. Traditionally, DR solutions have been costly and time consuming to implement. However, with the emergence of cloud-based DR servicesor disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), companies can deploy solutions fast.
But let's take a step back here. Before you begin implementing a disaster recovery solution, cloud-based or otherwise, your company should undertake an immense planning and consideration process, in which you evaluate your current IT environment. During this process, It is important to understand what your DR goals are and what sort of solution will help you to achieve them. Let us explore the steps of the DR planning process that lead to implementation, and the steps that come after.
How to Implement an Effective DR Solution
We've outlined the planning and implementation process below:
Step 1: Discovery
During the discovery process you will want to take inventory of your disaster recovery needs. What are your goals? What are your recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO)? Ensure you have an understanding of the gaps in your existing solution and what you need to improve upon to meet your goals.
Step 2: Stakeholder Input
Once you have completed the discovery stage it's time to consult the stakeholders in your business and present your findings. It is important to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your company's disaster recovery goals and the definition of an effective DR strategy. If stakeholders are not on board, your DR will suffer.
Step 3: Planning and Design
The stage that will take the longest in the DR implementation process is planning and design. It is crucial to ensure that your disaster recovery solution will meet your business needs, be compatible with your existing environment and actually work once implemented. This stage will likely consist of several design options and a lot of trial and error.
Step 4: Product Selection
Once you have outlined the plan and design of your DR environment, it is time to select your solution. Based on step 3 you may find that your optimal solution consists of a combination of on premises and cloud-based backup and disaster recovery services. Whatever your product or solution of choice, step 4 and 5 go hand in hand.
Step 5: Vendor Selection
In the process of selecting the right solution for your business, you must also select the right vendor. When evaluating cloud service providers it is important that you choose one who understands your business goals and will help you to achieve them. Keep in mind the provider's SLA, certifications and policies around data management, as these are crucial to disaster recovery.
Step 6: POC & Testing
Once you have selected your product and vendor, it's time to put the combination to the test with a proof of concept. You wouldn't buy a car without a test drive, so make sure you try out you solution and provider combo to work out the kinks before implementation.
Step 7: Implementation
Implementing a DR solution, with the help of a competent service provider, does not have to be a long and complicated process. As long as you have done your due diligence through the previous steps, implementation should be simple.
Step 8: Monthly DR Testing
Sadly, many companies believe that their DR planning process has been completed with step 7. However, an effective DR solution includes a test to ensure it works the way it is intended to. Putting your DR strategy to the test is crucial. You cannot be sure your data will be protected in a disaster unless you put it to the test. And simply testing once does not a sound solution make. DR plans should be tested monthly to make sure they are functioning properly.
Step 9: Upgrade & Update
In addition to monthly testing, it is important to stay up to date with product patches and updates. We often see that many ransomware attacks could have been prevented by updating software. If this is an area where your company really struggles, perhaps consider outsourcing the management of updates and patches to your service provider. The updates and upgrades stage is a constant process that should be done monthly, if not weekly.
Step 10: Reporting
The final step in the process is reporting. It is important to ensure that you are continuously reporting and assessing the performance of your DR solution. It is through reporting that your company will evaluate how the solution is working toward the overall goals and objectives. It will also give your business benchmarks to improve upon. The reporting step should be performed often, on a continuous cycle with step 9, updates and upgrades.