Disaster Recovery simply explained, is ensuring recoverability and access to your IT systems in the event of a natural disaster, cyber/ransomware attack, or unplanned (network/power) outage. The Disaster Recovery Plan is a part of Business Continuity and helps ensure your users and customers stay connected no matter what the IT Gods rain down. The published plan will contain the Disaster Recovery Team contact information and any important vendor contact information. For this post, we will be looking into Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS.
What is Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)?
DRaaS is a solution that puts a copy of your datacenter in the cloud and leverages a SaaS solution for backup. Before the cloud, a Disaster Recovery plan would involve building out another Data Center -Routers, servers, network architecture, and backup IT applications- in a different geographic location. As you can imagine, this is costly, and would require continuous maintenance from your in-house IT team. In the following sections let’s explore DRaaS and the steps to implement it.
How to get started
So where do we start? Who is involved? How much is the investment?
First, we need to assemble a team of stakeholders. This team will be the decision-makers and the points of contact when a disaster occurs. The team will be a mix of business, finance, and IT folks. This blend of stakeholders will ensure all business and functional areas are covered when designing and selecting a DRaaS provider and solution. The following four steps are critical when building out a Disaster Recovery Plan:
- What is the budget? What is the cost of downtime? Vendor Selection
- Determine and Prioritize IT systems and functions
- Provide documentation and on-going testing schedule
Calculate the budget/ Understand the cost of downtime
For this, we need to calculate the cost of downtime for your company.
To calculate the productivity impact financial number is a simple process:
- Determine the average hourly salary of the impacted employees. You can get this easily from human resources or a senior manager in the operations side of the business. All you need is a rough estimate.
- Decide on the productivity impact factor. This can be as low as 10 percent to as high as 100 percent depending upon what the outage is and the nature of the work of the impacted employees. For the example we are using, most senior operations managers will give you a 30 to 50 percent impact at a minimum.
- Calculate the “Productivity Cost Impact” or you can call it the “Cost of Downtime.” To do this: Cost of Downtime = (Impacted Employees) X (Productivity Factor %) X (Average hourly salary)
In our example shown with the image above, our productivity financial impact might be this:
(1,000 impacted employees) X ($20 average hourly rate) X (50% productivity impact factor) = $10,000 per hour of productivity cost impact. (courtesy of CIO.com)
Understanding the cost impact of downtime allows the team to decide on the budget and sets the stage for vendor selection.
Determine and Prioritize IT Systems and Functions
Now the real fun begins. What are the critical functions of your business? What systems are critical to maintain business continuity? How do you decide which systems have a P1- extremely necessary, or a P4- convenient, but not a critical priority? First, a list of all applications, services and systems is needed. For any industry, email and financial systems are the highest priority. So these would be assigned a Priority 1, meaning these systems need to be recovered the fastest. Then, the team would then move along, prioritizing each item to determine if, in the event of a disaster, whether it is necessary to take the application/service/system to the cloud. An example of a P4 app would be anything in development.
Once your vendor has been negotiated and selected, and your IT systems prioritized, we will need to implement the DRaaS solution. Moving data to the cloud can be challenging. CNG IT can provide Networking Architecting Solutions to assist with the tedious work.
It is necessary to keep all the information available at all times. Keep the contact numbers updated for the DR team members, as well as the contact information for the vendors. It is important to periodically review this data and add and remove it where necessary. Having account information in this document is extremely helpful. Also, this document needs to live outside of your organization for access during an emergency. Part of the final document will be a testing schedule. This is important to ensure the reliability and response times are within the accepted SLA’s. Testing the DR plan periodically before a disaster ensures your plan is effective.