INSIGHT: How to prepare IT environments for unexpected events
- 04 June, 2015 05:01
Most business leaders believe their disaster recovery measures are adequate, but fail to comprehend the full scale of possible events and their repercussions.
Businesses should therefore re-examine their disaster recovery plans regularly.
If companies assume that a disaster or failure is inevitable, and take into account the things they don’t know or can't prepare for, it can spell the difference between surviving a disaster and being destroyed by it.
There is no way for businesses to predict hardware or software failures, human error, or natural disasters. But, by acknowledging that some of these events will inevitably happen, companies can be better prepared.
“Many of us concentrate on things we already know and, time and time again, we fail to accept that there are things we don’t know, which we should take into consideration,” says Lincoln Goldsmith, general manager A/NZ, Acronis.
“If we are aware of this, we can begin to actively pre-empt those unexpected events that could cause havoc to IT systems.”
Companies that assume a disaster is inevitable and prepare accordingly can more easily handle unpredictable and potentially damaging influences outside of their control.
Acronis, which is preparing to launch its Disaster Recovery Cloud, has outlined four things companies should consider as they work to prepare their business and IT infrastructure from potentially damaging unexpected events:
1. Control the human factor
When a disaster hits and systems are down, Goldsmith says IT teams become inundated with calls from people wanting to know when everything will be up and running again.
“This can distract them from calmly handling the situation while reliably executing all recovery tasks,” he adds. “They may make mistakes under the stress of this situation, regardless of how good they are at their jobs.
“But if the team practises for disaster, it can minimise potential fallout.”
2. Regularly test recovery
“IT environments are constantly changing, especially in the age of the software-defined data centre,” Goldsmith adds.
"Software upgrades and patches, hardware changes, new applications, employee turnover, and organisational changes can sometimes render the best disaster recovery plans useless.”
Until it is actually tried out, Goldsmith believes it is difficult to know how effective a disaster plan will be. “That’s why regular testing is critical to recovery in a real-life situation,” he adds.
3. Leverage automation
“Even with testing, it can be tricky to know for sure that all the complex recovery processes will execute exactly as planned,” Goldsmith says.
“Automation can mitigate this. If disaster recovery plans are automated to execute at the push of a button, rather than stored as a list of instructions in Word or Excel files, there is a much higher chance the solution will work exactly as designed.”
4. Ensure help is available
When disasters affect communities rather than just businesses, Goldsmith says employees may be focused on protecting their families and saving their property.
“This distracts them from working on business recovery and, by the time they are ready to work, it may be too late.
“Having someone off-premises, unaffected by the same calamity, who is capable of providing professional support while others are dealing with their own problems is vital.”
Going forward, Goldsmith advises organisations; “don’t underestimate the value of a strong disaster recovery partner, and make sure you work with a provider that will suit your business’s specific needs.”
“It might be impossible to truly predict disruptive or damaging events, but at least businesses can prepare for them with a little bit of insight and some help from experts in the field,” he adds.