A “disaster” is defined as a sudden, unexpected event that causes great damage and disruption to the functioning of a community and results in material, economic and environmental loss that strains that community’s resources. Disasters may occur naturally or be man-made. They may range in damage, from trivial—causing only brief delays and minimal loss—to catastrophic, costing hundreds of thousands to fully recover from.
The Insurance Information Institute asserts that in 2016 alone, natural catastrophes accounted for $46 billion in insured losses worldwide, while man-made disasters resulted in additional losses of approximately $8 billion.
At some point, we all experience a disaster: car accidents, fires, floods, tornados, job loss, etc. When it comes to routine or common disasters, we generally have a good idea what our recovery plan should be. If a pipe breaks, causing a flood, you call a plumber to fix the pipe and maybe a cleaning service to mop up. When disaster strikes a business, standard plans should be in place to quickly recover critical assets so as not to interrupt essential computer systems and production.
Meanwhile, the typical enterprise IT team is constantly on guard for the standard sources of disaster: power outages, electrical surges, and water damage that has the potential to cripple data centers, destroy records, halt revenue-generating apps, and cause business activities to freeze. Since these types of disasters are so common, we’ve developed ways to recover from them quickly, we developed plans of action. But what about disasters we’ve never encountered or haven’t prepared for? Are we sure our recovery plans will save us from incurring huge costs, especially in the case of disasters we can’t predict?
In the last two decades, unforeseen disasters have hit 29 states, causing catastrophic problems for companies. Two planes crash into buildings in lower Manhattan, wiping out major data centers. Multi-day city-wide blackouts result in massive data loss. Hurricanes force cities to impose a mandatory closure of all non-essential work. These disasters not only created IT nightmares, they also exposed a whole host of DR-related issues companies had not yet even considered.
Business leaders forget how hard it is to think clearly under the stress and pressure of a sudden and unexpected event. Often, a sense of immunity or an indifference to disasters prevails— specifically catastrophic events, since these types of disasters, tend to be rare or unpredictable, so no sense in pouring money into a one-off DR plan for a disaster that has a slim chance of ever occurring, right? Wrong.
A standard DR plan provides for after a disaster has occurred. The best disaster recovery plan takes a holistic approach, preparing your company before, during, and after disaster strikes. Disaster recovery is as much about your people as it is about your data and computers. It’s about having a crisis communication plan (and about having plans, period). It’s about taking the time and spending the money, to test and implement your DR plans. From dedicated DR personal and DR checks to plan updates and documentation, an effective DR plan needs to engage the entire company.
So what should your DR plan look like? How will you know when it’s ready? How do you keep your DR plan from failing? In this continuing blog series, we’ll answer these questions and many more. Because in the midst of a disaster striking your production environment is not the time to see if your existing DR plan works, or even makes sense. Proper planning, design, and implementation of a solid DR plan can mean the difference between a downtime that lasts for days to one that’s resolved in under an hour.
Finally, if you need help updating any aspect of your company’s disaster recovery plan, or would like to begin the process of adopting a new DR plan, check out our Disaster Recovery Strategy Kickstart. Our expert consultants will be happy to help keep your company safe.
IT Infrastructure Project Manager