Fastly, a major content delivery network, recently reported a widespread failure that left customers unable to continue business operations. The organization, which supported news sites and apps like CNN, HBO Max, Hulu, Reddit, the Guardian, the New York Times and many others, had to suspend service to customers due to the outage.
While many services and apps began to be restored the morning after the disruption began, the company warned that some customers may experience longer load times as a residual effect of the outage.
The incident illustrated the importance of businesses having a clear and concise disaster recovery plan in place in order to ensure business continuity in the event of an outage.
The Importance of a Business Continuity Plan
Having a clear, concise and organizationally-appropriate disaster recovery plan in place is critical for instances such as the Fastly outage. Establishing such a plan can be a large task, but one highly-suitable for an organization’s CIO or head of IT.
As with all major audits and systemic changes, it’s important to approach the project with definitive lines of authority and accountability, and to convey clearly the support of senior leadership. Before creating a disaster recovery plan, it’s also important to conduct an inventory of all IT systems and any current data recovery strategy.
All software and hardware used on a daily basis—either for physical brick-and-mortar operations or for remote employees—and including applications, VoIP phone systems and data centers, should all be listed in the inventory.
Although this seems an elementary step, it’s one that’s often overlooked and yet of critical import: surveying your current systems, understanding how they’re deployed and their corresponding business impact will guide the scope and scale of your data backup and disaster recovery plan.This inventory will help inform the next component: identifying which systems and applications need to be restored first, should your company suffer an outage.
As the head of the IT teams is often on the front lines, they can provide great insight. Once it’s understood what systems are most critical for restoration, the team can begin to gather information to determine recovery time requirements, including conducting a business impact analysis, defining recovery points and determining recovery time objectives.
Once this analysis is complete, organizations can have a better understanding of how many backup options they need. At minimum, businesses should follow the 3-2-1 approach, the recommended way to keep your data safe under the circumstances. The process breaks out as follows:
- Three – Create three copies of your data, one primary copy and two backups.
- Two – Store your copies in at least two types of storage media. Local types of storage media include a local drive, network, tape drive, etc.
- One – Store one of these copies offsite or on the cloud. Taking advantage of cloud for business continuity can allow companies to focus on performing the data transfer processes and testing your disaster recovery capability.
Once a tailor-made disaster recovery plan has been devised and implemented, the work is not done. At minimum, organizations should be assessing their plan once a year. If there is immense growth and activity within a business, IT teams should assess every quarter.
No one has the ability to predict the future, but they do have the ability to prepare. In the event of another outage like Fastlys, enterprises with a well-built disaster recovery plan can continue business operations until the issue is resolved.