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Disaster Recovery: Aligning the Cost With the Scale of Disaster

30 Sep 2015 by Howard M Cohen

When Hurricane Sandy struck the northeastern United States in October 2012, it was a Category 3 hurricane, not a Category 5 like New Orleans’ Katrina. The severity of the two storms was significantly different: Katrina slammed in at as much as 174 mph, while Sandy’s gusts maxed out at 115 mph. Yet in some ways, Sandy’s devastation was just as major as Katrina’s.

Here’s why: New Orleans had made provisions in anticipation of hurricanes. While these were overwhelmed by the extraordinary fury of Katrina, they still offered some resistance.  The northeast, on the other hand, was just as severely impacted as New Orleans, because those communities never anticipated hurricanes striking their area, and they had nothing in place to protect themselves.

Disasters come in many shapes and sizes.

Clearly these hurricanes created tremendous disasters, but companies experience disasters of other sizes all the time. The loss of a critical server can turn into a disaster if no provisions have been made in anticipation of such an event. While one might consider this a “minor” disaster by comparison to the effects of a hurricane, if the company loses revenue, forcing it out of business, the impact will be tremendous to the owners and stakeholders.

In assessing disaster response and disaster recovery planning, we need to gauge by scale of impact to the business more than by severity of the disaster.

Planning the appropriate response.

At the high end of the disaster recovery scale, with sufficient funds, one could provision a complete “full availability” solution. This would include a redundant data center ready to accept failover from primary systems that have been struck by catastrophe. And users could continue working non-stop.

In the case of a mid-sized company whose file server gets moderate use for storing and retrieval of everyday documents, kicking in this entire solution in the event of a drive failure would be overkill.

This is an extreme example, but it illustrates what goes into a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. We must plan for a major, disabling, catastrophic event. But we must also plan for smaller, less-expensive measures to protect non-critical systems and avoid smaller-scale problems.

Gathering cloud solutions.

Cloud computing provides a pool of shared resources. Cloud creates new opportunities for us to configure more affordable disaster recovery solutions. And with cloud we can still scale to meet the level of disablement created by a given disastrous event. Some of these solutions include simple remote backup to handle primary server and drive failures. There are also redundant servers and storage provisioned in a pooled cloud solution. These deliver a ready solution in the event of total data center loss. Plus, there are many levels in between.

Effective disaster recovery planning is always a balance between allowing for downtime tolerance and available budget. Scalable solutions will often allow us to reduce the anticipated downtime, while also reducing overall cost. The right balance will provide a recovery point objective that is as close to the actual event as possible. This will minimize data loss, while reducing the recovery time objective to minimize the financial impact of extended downtime.

Your IT service provider support team at Insight will help you learn everything you need to know to custom design disaster recovery solutions for each customer. Insight also offers a wide variety of disaster recovery solutions scaled to suit the widely varying severity of challenges customers face every day. Talk to us about how to best scale solutions to respond appropriately to every disaster. Call 1.800.INSIGHT or visit us online to find out how we can add value to your existing business.