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Disaster recovery (DR) is a lot like insurance. No one wants to pay for it or ever have to use it, but when it’s needed, you’ll be extremely grateful it’s there. Or you will be if it works. After all,  DR is extremely complex and constantly changing, requiring IT to implement dependencies and restore in the proper order to ensure everything works when you need it.

The problem occurs when an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality kicks in. DR often takes a backseat to more pressing IT items, forgotten until it’s too late. Then, when data is threatened and mission critical apps are down, IT finds itself in a mad scramble to right the sinking ship as executives, employees and customers wait angrily. 

Another issue? In tough financial times, companies and IT leaders will sometimes cut DR. That’s quite a gamble given that you could lose an entire enterprise – the result of missed sales, a tarnished reputation, dissatisfied customers – all because you were trying to save a few bucks in the short term. 

And, of course, today, organizations must grapple with having most of their employees working remotely, due to the pandemic, which introduces another complication. IT needs to adjust to the new remote paradigm to ensure the right business continuity strategy is in place, current and ready to go. And, as part of that planning, there’s a number of potential pitfalls to keep on the forefront and avoid. 

Common mistakes

As a backup and DR (BaaS, DRaaS) provider, we’re brought in to provide that crucial insurance that’ll minimize downtime, prevent data loss and ensure business continuity. We’ve worked with a lot of organizations to help them strengthen their DR plans, and we typically see some common and preventable mistakes, including the following.

  • IT disconnect with business managers: IT needs to thoroughly understand which apps are most vital to the day-to-day operations of the business and to prioritize them. Unfortunately, all too often, IT decides this on its own, frustrating managers and end-users, and delaying recovery.
  • Absence of access: It doesn’t matter how quickly virtual machines (VMs) are spun up in the cloud or offsite DR data center, if users don’t know how to access them, you haven’t recovered. This is especially true if you’ve got a small IT department supporting hundreds of users who are remote. Having IT remotely log into each employee’s machine to connect them will take far too long. Consider your recovery time objective (RTO) met only when every user has access.
  • Dependencies not considered: Applications don’t exist in a vacuum. They often depend on other apps and resources to run, and if they’re not spun back up in the correct order, they’ll fail. This is not an issue you want to figure out while a business is dead in the water and losing revenue every minute. 
  • Not enough testing: Completing the backup process isn’t enough, neither is doing so throughout the day or storing them safely. If you fail to test your DR system, you may miss flaws in the plan, and you really don’t want to discover problems when you’re trying to recover an entire data center’s worth of virtual machines. 

Shifts happen

The only way to have effective recovery is to pursue a disaster as inevitable; don’t think “if” it will happen, view it as “when.” If you need further convincing think back to February, before many of us had even heard of COVID-19. How many of us foresaw then that the entire workforce would need to work remotely with just a few days’ notice to prepare? Wildfires are starting to break out all over the Western United States, and the heart of hurricane season is rapidly approaching. It’s important to be prepared.

An IT leader can remove a lot of DR responsibility and overhead by enlisting a service provider. BaaS and DRaaS done right can simplify IT, while enabling enterprises to lower costs, increase ROI, enhance their speed and adapt to changes.

With the right service provider, your backup and DR will be handled by pros with years of focused experience creating  DR plans, restoring millions of files and conducting dozens of successful failovers. They’ll have partnerships with top software vendors in the space, relieving IT of the burden of updates, product knowledge and further backup and DR investment. 

We’ve worked with Veeam for over a decade as they literally changed the market and set a new standard for backup and DR of virtualized and cloud workloads. And when it comes to data and workloads that need continuous data protection, Zerto eases processes and delivers RTOs and recovery point objectives of near zero.

You want to ensure your enterprise and employees can perform, come what may, regardless of location. With the right partner, no matter what shift happens, you’ll insure your company’s ability to respond and gain the personal assurances you need to sleep at night.

Click here to download our free eBook on DR testing.