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Weathering the Storm: Best Practices to Achieve Business Continuity

Best Practices
Arcserve's Oussama El-Hilali

Arcserve’s Oussama El-Hilali

By Oussama El-Hilali, VP of products, Arcserve

Every part of the country experiences different forms of severe weather that can lead to unplanned, extended downtime. Hurricanes ravage the Southern coast, tornadoes and subzero temperatures run rampant across the Midwest, earthquakes shake the West, and Nor’easters leave New England residents buried under piles of snow. It’s critical that managed service providers help their customers safeguard business operations when severe weather is approaching, especially since a hiccup in operations could cost organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to results from an Arcserve-commissioned survey of 759 IT decision-makers, nearly half revealed they have less than an hour to recover business-critical systems before it starts affecting revenue, despite only 26 percent being extremely confident in their ability to do so. This highlights how important it is for businesses to have an effective disaster recovery plan in place. Even more important is the need for MSPs to be ready for the unexpected, and have systems in place that can anticipate when emergency measures need to be taken. For example, predictive analytics can be used to indicate when a system might fail so it can be backed up in advance of the expected failure to avoid extended downtime or data loss.

Preventive Measures Keep Customer Data Safe

To keep data out of harm’s way, MSPs need to educate their customers about the steps they need to take to implement a proper recovery plan.

  • The first step for any organization is to create a risk profile. Understanding how severe weather can affect the organization can help business continuity managers know which systems, applications and workloads are the most important to recover to keep business operations intact.
  • Once the most important systems are identified, MSPs then need to help customers determine adequate recovery point and time objectives (RPOs/RTOs) that align with business needs. An organization’s RTOs refer to speed of recovery, whereas RPOs refer to the amount of business activity lost when an outage occurs. For example, if there’s a daily backup, then your business is essentially willing to tolerate a loss of up to 24 hours of data. Helping customers understand these metrics is critical to substantiating the high costs they may incur if they don’t invest in, and refine, their BCDR plans.
  • It’s also important for customers to ensure there’s redundancy in the data they’re storing. Good disaster recovery architectures need to consider the physical distance between primary and secondary data. In cases of severe weather, it’s especially important to make sure that customers are storing a second copy that is located in a geography that’s not likely to be impacted by the impending weather event. Providing customers with cloud backup and recovery options can be one way to achieve this.

Take a Predictive Approach

While today’s disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) solutions allow most enterprise customers to continue accessing business-critical applications with minimal disruptions, the future of BCDR is looking even brighter, especially with new technologies being introduced into the market. Predictive analytics, for instance, could be used to help businesses work in a smarter way by identifying when a system might fail ahead of time. Artificial intelligence-based algorithms will use predetermined internal and external data sources to inform these predictions, which can help prevent extended downtime or data loss.

For example, knowing an earthquake is about to hit before it happens could allow organizations to …

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