By Ahsan Siddiqui, Director, Product Management, Arcserve
A recent survey of CEOs by the publication Chief Executive found that one-third expect their work model for the remainder of 2022 to be a mix of remote, hybrid, and onsite workers. Only 31 percent expect to have their people in the office, with the rest of the CEOs expecting their workforce to be either hybrid or fully remote, or they're undecided. The pandemic drove this move to a new work paradigm in which employees work from anywhere. Now, many companies are implementing infrastructure modernization initiatives as they journey through digital transformation.
These changes have brought on new challenges. These include increased complexity and new vulnerabilities. The most crucial question that companies need to answer is how will they keep their operations running smoothly if they’re struck by a natural disaster, hardware failure, cyber attack, or downtime caused by human error?
IT teams need to reevaluate their approach to business continuity if they are going to overcome these challenges. The IT metrics used to measure business continuity don’t change. What still matters is uptime, data and application availability, and data backup and recovery. But the transition to hybrid work demands a new business continuity strategy that acknowledges IT’s growing responsibility to keep everything running all the time.
This change applies to every company that relies on technology, and today that’s almost every business. Say the French restaurant down the street uses cloud-based software that lets customers order and pay with their phones. If this service is disrupted, the restaurant not only loses orders during the downtime, it also takes a hit to its reputation.
Business Continuity Is a Requirement
Due to businesses' increased reliance on data, pressure continues to mount to achieve 24/7 uptime. An independent global study commissioned by Arcserve found that 83 percent of IT decision-makers believe 12 hours is the maximum acceptable downtime for critical systems before there is a measurable negative impact on business. But for many businesses, even that is too much downtime. A 2021 study by IBM found that just one hour of downtime for a single server can cost firms $100,000. If you’re running 1,000 servers, that’s a heart-stopping $10 million per hour.
Start With a Plan
Every organization should have a business continuity plan. This step-by-step plan will guide your response to a disruption when time and efficiency are essential. Your plan should address any contingency or type of disaster so you can quickly address the cause, minimize downtime, and control any damage.
Make sure your plan is comprehensive, listing the resources you’ll need in a crisis, like data backups and storage locations. It should also include your team's steps to notify company leaders, communicate with customers, and sustain productivity.
You should test your plan regularly to ensure it will work when needed. Testing will help you identify and address vulnerabilities before they are exposed. With regular testing, you can also be confident that your data is safeguarded and can be restored no matter what.
Make Data Backups a Priority
Most companies will suffer a data loss at some point. In the recent survey commissioned by Arcserve, 74 percent of respondents in mid-sized companies said they had experienced a data loss in the past five years. And 52 percent said they couldn’t recover all their data after a loss.
That’s why you need to adopt a 3-2-1-1 data backup strategy to prevent data loss. The strategy calls for three backup copies of your data on two different media (disk and tape, for example), with one copy stored offsite for disaster recovery. The final “1” stands for immutable storage. Immutable backups convert your data to a write-once read-many-times format that can’t be altered, deleted, or encrypted.
Establish Your RPOs and RTOs
Your plan also needs to include your recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) and how you will meet them. Your RPO is the amount of data your business can tolerate losing before it experiences severe damage. It’s the determining factor behind how frequently you need to back up your data—and the technologies you’ll need to support that schedule. You may set different RPOs for different business functions, with dynamic files like financial transactions requiring frequent backups for a minimal RPO. Static files that aren’t crucial to operations can be backed up less frequently, allowing a longer RPO.
RTO is the amount of time before your operation can be up and running following a disaster. Once you’ve established your RTO, you can make informed decisions about your data resilience plan. If you decide your organization can only tolerate an hour of downtime, you’ll need a recovery solution to meet that one-hour threshold.
Businesses can’t tolerate digital disruptions anymore because the costs can be astronomical and even kill a company. So, go with a next-gen solution, test it in conjunction with your disaster recovery plan, and be ready for anything.
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