Aligning Disaster Recovery with Business Priorities

Jul 25, 2023 by Joe Galvan

It's a recurring nightmare for IT leaders... some unexpected disruption leads to downed systems, initial panic begets chaos, and after a clumsy and prolonged recovery the organization's IT team—despite arguably heroic effort—is expected to explain why things didn't go so well. Time is money, so they say, and the bosses are complaining that this time the losses related to downtime were significant.

As vivid as the nightmare may be, the challenges of developing and maintaining an effective disaster recovery (DR) program keep many organizations from ever achieving a healthy score in this department. I commonly run across these scenarios when I'm talking with prospects and customers:

  • Their current disaster recovery solution does not meet their needs. They know they need a better solution, but the prevailing opinion is that they can’t afford it.
  • They may have spent a fair amount of money on DR but they have a hot mess. The solutions are too complex, they rely on too many manual processes, and they're unable to adequately test their recovery processes.
  • They have a robust Disaster Recovery solution in place that meets their needs and works well. Their challenge is the cost to maintain it. As IT budgets tighten they are desperate to find ways to cut costs.

It's no surprise that cost is a recurring issue in discussions around disaster recovery. But it may surprise you to hear that the ideal DR solution is not necessarily the most expensive. Cost can be driven by poor choices made early in the quest to implement a DR solution, and these choices often have one thing in common: They fail to address legitimate DR priorities as derived from the impact to the business of disaster.

In other words, too many DR solutions are built to solve the wrong problems first. They focus on technology without consideration for the goal of every effective disaster recovery plan: To minimize the impact to the business—which is most assuredly some combination of loss of revenue, loss of brand equity, diminished regulatory compliance, or even compromised health and safety.

Understanding the true impact of a disaster in these terms is fundamental to setting priorities related to recovering from it. Rather than starting by assessing the capabilities of the various replication, backup, and recovery technologies, the most successful leaders start by assessing the impact of loss of access to their critical applications and then addressing with the appropriate processes and technologies. They cannot do this in a vacuum, so they involve stakeholders throughout the organization. With input from all organizational units, they are equipped with a clearer picture of what matters most, or, which systems should be protected first, and how much damage downtime can inflict on the company's mission.

Quantifying the business impact of a potential disaster is not only critical for identifying the problems that need solving, it also leads to healthier budgets, since it helps decision makers become conscious of the risks associated with failing to adequately prepare.

If your organization lacks the internal expertise or discipline to effectively develop an effective disaster recovery plan, you're in good company. An estimated eighty percent of organizations fall short of establishing meaningful recovery goals, implementing solutions to achieve them, and testing those solutions on a periodic basis. If your organization is one of them, contact Prescriptive Data Solutions today to find out how we can help.

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