Disaster Recovery Planning, Simplified

written by Michael Anderson posted on February 7, 2011

I’ll be the first to admit that technology service providers have a habit of overcomplicating things. We’ll talk about protocols, cloud computing, and desktop optimization – all while our listener gets that glazed-over look in their eyes.

One area that can appear particularly daunting to business owners and managers is Disaster Recovery. Most of the companies that we meet with have some form of data backup in place (even if the quality of their backup systems vary widely) – yet recent studies indicate that the majority of small and medium-sized businesses have no disaster recovery plan. This, despite the fact that the businesses polled experienced an average of six network outages in 2010.

In the interest of keeping things simple, and perhaps starting the conversation of disaster recovery planning in your business, here is a simple 2 question test. Keep reading, even (especially) if you’re not able to answer:

Question 1

If the systems that we use to operate our business became unavailable due to a serious server failure, it would take ______ hours to restore our systems to fully operational status.

Question 2

If we were to suffer a complete site loss (flood/fire/natural disaster) which destroyed our servers, it would take _____ days to have our critical business systems back in operation.

Alright, pencils down.

So – how did you do? Were you able to answer both questions, or is there some uncertainty around your company’s disaster readiness? If you were able to answer one or both questions, are you happy with your responses?

If you weren’t able to answer these questions, that’s ok – you now have a starting point for looking at disaster recovery planning. Until you know what the impact of a server failure or site loss will be on your business (in time and money), you can’t truly assess whether your risk level is acceptable. Start by asking your technology support company to discuss these 2 questions with you. From there, you can begin to discuss what courses of action could be taken to reduce the business impact of a disaster event, and the corresponding costs of their recommendations.

If you were able to answer these questions, but feel that your risk is still too high – a similar approach is recommended. What timeframes WOULD be acceptable? What savings (in revenue and productivity) would this reduction represent for you? What are the corresponding costs to do so?

Disaster readiness, as it pertains to business technology, is all about balancing acceptable risk levels with the costs of protective measures. Knowing what your current risk level is, and whether it’s acceptable to you is the first step – and our little 2 question test has you well on your way!

If you would like more information on how your company can develop a disaster recovery plan, or the solutions available to small and medium-sized business, give us a call, or send us a note – we’d love to hear from you!

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