By Patrick Doherty, Chief Revenue Officer, Flexential
Businesses always have to be ready to weather the storm – whether it’s an impending forecast or enterprise issue. No matter where a business is located – in snowy climates, hurricane-prone coastlines, active fault lines or raging wildfires – businesses must have plans in place to keep operations running no matter the circumstances. Consider being a business in Florida located on the coast during hurricane season, or a corporation in Kansas City, Missouri at the height of tornado season. For such businesses, back-up generators are not enough in the face of a storm.
And beyond natural events, organizations must also be prepared for manmade disasters which increasingly arise in the form of cyberattacks. Malicious actors prey upon human error and use individual’s lack of awareness of vulnerability to breach systems and access sensitive information. In fact, cybersecurity firm Mimecast recently found that 94% of individuals were targets of an email phishing attack throughout the past year.
In today’s always-on society, businesses do not have time to fall victim to infrastructure downtime. If their systems go down and data is lost, service downtime can mean lost revenue, customers and potentially even total shutdown. In fact, a quarter of global businesses reported that the average cost of enterprise server downtime this year is between $301K and $400K. And with Uptime Institute research showing a 6 percent increase in service degradation across enterprises between 2017 and 2018, executives must have a plan and team in place to address potential issues before they occur. Organizations, especially those housing sensitive information, must expect the unexpected to safeguard both internal and customer data. Failing to plan for a potential infrastructure disaster will put your organization in a position to fail.
However, disaster recovery is a shared responsibility with a data infrastructure provider. Therefore, in addition to internal protection measures, evaluating your data center relationships is one of the most important disaster recovery decisions you can make. To prepare for and thwart these potential risks, organizations should find a partner who is equipped with emergency response plans so that operations are maintained and data remains available at all times. Read on as I outline what businesses should keep in mind as they implement their disaster recovery plans.
Protection and Recovery: Implementation of DRaaS & Provider Relationships
Investing in the right technology and providers that will monitor, assess and prevent disaster is key. Whether a business brings IT support in-house to carry out their disaster recovery plans or works with a service partner to keep systems updated and maintained, getting ahead of the unpredictable will help prevent lost information, wasted profit, damaged reputation and customer distrust.
Businesses’ whose first time it is implementing a disaster recovery plan may not understand what the best recovery services are for their needs or have the means to get these programs up and running. With this in mind, these organizations should consider implementing Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) plans to avoid disruption. In working with a network provider, businesses can alleviate organizational pain points that arise from needing to effectively manage enterprise infrastructures. With DRaaS, organizations can work with well-equipped expert provider teams that offer end-to-end relief. This gives organizations back their time and their people to focus on their work and bring in revenue without worrying about infrastructure challenges.
When turning to a disaster recovery provider, businesses should thoughtfully consider various aspects of what that provider can offer. These include:
- Monitoring and maintenance: When choosing a provider, businesses should review the assessment practices that said provide has in-place. First, data center providers should use programs offering preventative maintenance on emergency systems like generators, cooling systems and fire detection. Beyond that, data center providers should have infrastructure monitoring and staff training integrated seamlessly into their offering so that both their technology and their people keep a consistently close, protective eye over your organization at all times.
- Location: Location, location, location! Keeping in mind that data center operation can be severely impacted by weather, a business should ensure that their backup provider is located away from high-risk weather areas, like flood zones, but still close enough to customers that the same quality of network operation is maintained.
- Safety and security: Keeping data safe and secure should be the number one priority for businesses. With this in mind, businesses should look to work with providers that are equipped with a staff who monitors their operations round the clock. Knowing that cyberattacks are a large risk to data center operation, having a provider that maintains the same level of resilience is vital.
- Redundancy: In the case that systems go down, providers should have uninterruptable power supply (USP) systems and generators in place to make sure that power supply goes uninterrupted.
- Availability of fuel providers: Generators alone, though, just don’t cut it. Making sure that your data center provider also has at least three fuel providers, both in and out of state, is critical to avoid the complete failure of their fuel supply chain.
- Provider relationships: It’s all about maintaining relationships. Beyond fuel providers, data center providers should also have relationships with various Tier One internet providers so that if their systems go down, other carriers can step in.
- Testing systems in place: Having everything in place to address potential downtime is a great first step, but it’s imperative that your data center provider frequently tests that their emergency plan actually works. You do not want to face a situation where your operations go down, but your provider, who has the necessary components in place, cannot actually carry those components out.
- A trained and ready “go team:” In the event of a disaster, a “go team” should be your go-to. Data center providers should have a fully-trained staff on hand who understands how to carry out their emergency response plan. This team will also alleviate local teams in the case of an emergency, allowing them to return home and keep their families safe.
- Backup Supplies: At the end of the day, it’s all about your people and keeping employees safe. Businesses should look for a data provider that will support your people during the storm, with goods such as food, water and bedding.
Understanding Needs to Overcome Outages
At the end of the day, every business is different – housing different types of information across different departments around different regions. Given these differences, enterprise infrastructures will always be unique, and thus, disaster recovery strategies to keep infrastructures strong will need to be tailored based on business function.
Enterprise disaster recovery can be looked at like having a life insurance policy, where cost and benefits are regularly compared. Evaluating your business’s level of risk, based on internal preparation, awareness and location helps to ensure that you are matching the enterprise’s level of risk with the same level of protection. Disaster recovery plans are not a “nice to have,” but rather a “need to have.” In a time of climate change, rising cyberattacks and inevitable human error, making sure that your organization is protected from the inside out, with the help of a data center provider is imperative to longevity and success.