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Wednesday, 15 February 2017 20:45

Seeing the Bigger Picture: Why Disaster Recovery Is Only the Beginning

Written by  GEOFF WATERS

 

Waters1It’s an unfortunate reality that in the world of IT, disasters, whether man-made or natural, will happen. According to the most recent report by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council, fully one in four of the organizations surveyed said they had experienced a service interruption that affected most or all of a data center for hours or even days.


Worse, 60 percent of the respondents said they did not have a fully documented disaster recovery plan – an alarming statistic that implies these organizations are essentially playing Russian roulette with their IT infrastructures.


As the need for digital transformation grows more pressing and IT becomes more central to organizations of all kinds, the risks associated with IT service interruptions are brought into sharp focus. In the short term, an IT disaster can impact revenue, and recovering from it is often an unplanned expense. In the long term, negative publicity around a disaster can damage an organization’s reputation, sometimes irreparably – which goes without saying will impact profitability.


But there’s a bigger business issue here and a disaster recovery plan is only PART of the answer. An organization can’t be truly prepared until it has a comprehensive business continuity strategy.


A 360-Degree View
While disaster recovery is about responding to incidents as they happen, business continuity is about proactive, strategic planning and taking a holistic view of the entire lifecycle of a data center. As such, a robust business continuity strategy has many facets.


Basic security is one facet. The first and most important way to address IT service interruptions is to take appropriate measures to ensure they never happen. This includes security at the perimeter and at the endpoints, in addition to deploying, logging and monitoring solutions that can provide forensics in the event of an incident.


True security, however, comprises more than just digital countermeasures. Disasters can also result from human actions, whether out of malice or simple error. Preparing for these eventualities is another facet of a business continuity strategy.


Occasionally, service disruptions can be the result of rogue IT individuals on the network. How an organization tests and validates its assets before deploying them can play a big role in keeping the infrastructure running smoothly.


And what about the cloud? As organizations increasingly leverage hybrid and public cloud strategies to lower costs and improve agility, knowing which data and workloads can be safely moved to the cloud and which are better left on-premises becomes increasingly important.


In turn, as organizations outsource more of its IT – including cloud infrastructure, applications, storage, development testing and more – reviewing and managing service level agreements (SLAs) becomes critical.


Don’t Go it Alone
By now, it should be apparent that developing a comprehensive business continuity strategy is not a trivial task, particularly given how overworked many IT organizations are already. No doubt that’s why so many companies stop short at disaster recovery, if they even make it that far.


The good news is that organizations don’t need to go it alone … in fact, doing so is a bad idea. For most IT departments, identifying and mitigating the business risks associated with IT infrastructure and applications is not a core competency. The best approach is to partner with a specialist company that has the knowledge and experience to act as a trusted advisor.


Fortunately, there is a wealth of options. The old VAR model of yesterday has evolved, and today’s preferred technology vendors are full-service consultants that can provide a range of services and cloud solutions. For example, many cloud services carry a DRaaS technology badge, indicating they are specialists in helping companies develop their business continuity plans.


Considering that 20 percent of respondents in the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council survey said they’d experienced outages that caused losses ranging from more than $50,000 to more than $5 million, the expense of working with a third-party trusted advisor is easily justifiable.


If your organization doesn’t yet have a documented disaster recovery plan, definitely make that your first step. But don’t stop there. Disaster recovery is a good first step, but a company that isn’t planning for the future with a comprehensive strategy for business continuity is a disaster waiting to happen.

Waters GeoffGeoff Waters is vice president of the Service Provider Channel at VMware. Waters is responsible for all aspects of VMware's Cloud Provider business, including cloud strategies, partner programs, GTM models, partner and product marketing, cloud partner sales and service provider operations on a global basis.