How to Create Agile IT Environments Ready For Any Crisis: Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist
In the last three years, businesses across Northern California have had to deal with multiple unavoidable disasters. In 2018, fires devastated individuals and companies alike. The following year saw power outages impact organizations and cause massive data loss. And finally, in 2020, California businesses are learning to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic with the rest of the world.
These disasters affected countless businesses, with many forced to close. We don’t want this to happen to your business. And although you can’t predict if and when a disaster will hit, you can better prepare for the possibility of one. We’ve put together a simple checklist to jumpstart your disaster preparedness and improve the resiliency of your organization.
Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist
☐ Understand your Recovery Objectives (RPO & RTO)
What is your tolerance for data loss?
How long can your business afford to be down?
Your company’s RPO and RTO are key measures in understanding how to create a disaster recovery for your business. Your RPO is essentially your business’s tolerance level for data loss. If your systems go down, what is an acceptable point in time that your business can return to and continue operations effectively? This will vary drastically from one company to another. For example, one business may be able to return to yesterday’s data and pick up where they left off fairly easily. For another business, they may only be able to lose a few minutes of data before it dramatically escalates negative consequences to the organization.
RTO, on the other hand, refers to the amount of time your business can be down for before significant losses ensue. Again, one company may be able to handle a few days of downtime while another may only be able to manage a few minutes.
Understanding these two objectives, you will be able to determine what solutions work for you. Typically, the shorter your RPO and RTO, the more advanced solutions you will require.
☐ Ensure High Availability
Do you have failover systems in place?
When creating a disaster recovery plan, you’ll want to make sure you are implementing high availability in your infrastructure. High availability is a term used to describe systems with high levels of operational performance. There are often redundant components in place that lead to this dependability.
However, creating highly available systems goes beyond redundancy. It ensures that should something happen to one of your systems, there is a mechanism in place that detects the failure and takes action. For example, if something happens to your hardware, your failover process should automatically move processing performed by the failed component to the backup.
☐ Create a Remote Ready System
Are you using cloud capabilities effectively to prepare for possible remote work?
Can employees access resources securely from anywhere?
We are all currently navigating the waters of working remotely, but some businesses were more prepared than others, making the transition much more smooth and efficient. Moving forward, we will most likely see remote work continue to grow, which means your environment needs to be ready.
To ensure a remote ready system, first, what does your security posture look like? Do you have a proper VPN in place that allows employees to access their systems from anywhere? Is your firewall set up for remote work and configured with security in mind? Are you leveraging cloud capabilities to maintain an effective and safe environment? Having remote access capabilities already set up will help prepare your business for the future. Any events that prevent employees from working in a fixed location like your office will be much easier to manage.
☐ Improve the Overall Security of Your Network
Is your business protected from cyber attacks and criminals trying to get their hands on your data?
It’s 2020, and if there is one thing we know, it’s that no business is safe from criminals and cyber attacks. We have seen some of the biggest organizations in the world (Target, Marriott, and more) get hit by cybercrime. That is why it’s so important to stay on your toes when it comes to security.
No solution can 100% guarantee complete protection for your data. However, by layering various security measures, you can breathe easier and know that you have done what’s necessary to secure your business.
A few layers we recommend include setting up a VPN, using multi-factor authentication, and securing passwords. These are all fairly easy to put in place and can be strong defenders against cybercriminals.
☐ Have An Accurate Picture of Your Network
What does your network look like, how does it behave, and what are its limitations?
It can be challenging to truly understand what your network looks like — especially if you aren’t a trained IT expert. However, knowing how your network behaves and the limitations it has can help you recognize where improvements can be made. Improvements that can help prepare your business for the future and any unforeseen events.
You can do this by setting up an assessment with any IT provider. They can evaluate your entire IT function or even just a specific piece, such as your network. This assessment will help give you an accurate representation of your systems and any insights the IT provider might have.
This step is especially important because it will provide actionable suggestions specific to your business. Anyone can search online for disaster recovery planning and find millions of articles and how-to’s. However, the reality is that every business is different. These resources may give you a general idea of where to start with some helpful tips (like our own article here), but they can never look specifically at your environment and tell you exactly what you should do. An MSP can.
Here at Executech, we’ll help apply the appropriate technology solutions for your business. We understand the unique business and culture needs every organization has and will partner with you to create a more resilient and agile technology environment. No matter what comes down the road, we’re here for you.