As seen in The Business Monthly
Most business owners are familiar with the concept of IT Disaster Recovery (DR). Simply put, DR is the practice of creating redundant IT systems in geographically disparate locations, so that in the event of a disaster, those systems can still perform their key roles. This concept is not new and there are many options for businesses to implement a DR system.
Unfortunately, many companies are still without a system for DR. Organizations often treat the idea of DR as something that they will worry about when and if they are faced with a disaster. According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25% of small businesses never re-open their doors after a disaster*. Lack of IT Disaster Recovery plays no small part in this statistic.
Larger businesses also lack adequate DR plans and systems. They choose to rely on a backup and recovery system that is often under-tested and requires a time-consuming restore process.
So why are businesses putting themselves at risk in this way? Oftentimes, it has to do with the way in which businesses view IT. Many business owners and decision makers see IT as a necessary evil that they have to deal with to run their business. They fear that vendors and consultants are trying to sell them more IT hardware and infrastructure than they really need. As a result, they approach purchasing new hardware and systems with a high degree of suspicion.
Disaster Recovery is NOT an insurance policy!
When it comes to Disaster Recovery systems, many businesses view it as a high tech insurance policy that will only be useful if an unlikely catastrophic event occurs. There are two problems with this analogy:
- Viewing DR as the answer in case of an extreme event (i.e. hurricane, tornado, fire, etc.) ignores more common incidents that cause IT outages such as loss of power, loss of Internet connectivity and hardware failures. These events are not uncommon at all, but still have the effect of causing downtime and interruption in business.
- Viewing DR as an insurance policy is problematic. Fire insurance, for example, will provide money to rebuild an office space after a fire, but it does not prevent interruption of day-to-day business operations. However, a quality DR Solution will keep the IT infrastructure running while the disaster is happening and as steps are being taken to recover.
It’s time for business owners to look at IT in a new way.
The reality is that a great many businesses are run on their IT infrastructure. They rely on email to communicate with vendors and customers; their accounting is all done on applications that reside on a server; and they often run on a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool or some other line of business application. Therefore, the question that business owners need to ask themselves is how integral are those applications to the running of their organization.
Determine the ROI of a Disaster Recovery Solution.
By understanding the value that business applications have to operations, the return on investment (ROI) of a Disaster Recovery solution can be determined.
Here's how to do this:
- Identify each critical process that the applications and services power (i.e. can transactions be processed without the line of business application?).
- Understand the time and monetary impact that performing functions manually will have (i.e. what is the cost of running transactions manually for a week?).
- Add the cost of lost opportunities if the applications are inoperable (i.e. how much will you lose if a customer can’t reach you by email?).
Once a company understands the value of IT services to their business, informed decisions about IT infrastructure can be made. In the case of Disaster Recovery, business owners and key stakeholders need to identify the cost of losing these services and invest in the correct infrastructure to avoid or minimize downtime. The value of any given system should determine how much we spend to ensure its availability or up-time.
As businesses refine how they look at IT Disaster Recovery, they will be able to make decisions to protect the investments they have made in their business by ensuring that critical systems remain available no matter what events may occur.