A few months ago, a rogue monkey caused a nationwide power outage in Kenya. It fell on a transformer at a hydroelectric power station, tripped it, and caused a blackout throughout the country. Luckily, the power was restored four hours later and the monkey survived.
I know what you’re thinking—you have yet to spot a monkey in the wild in Iowa, so what does that have to do with your situation? Well, it’s not just monkeys that can cause outages. Remember the 2020 derecho? It put a lot of Midwest businesses on hold—from a few hours to a few days.
Want to ensure the continuity of your business no matter what? This is where a comprehensive disaster recovery plan comes into play.
Why Do You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan Before a Disaster Takes Place?
When you think about disasters, the first category that springs to mind are the natural ones. But disasters can come in a lot of shapes and forms, from a rogue animal that plays where it shouldn’t (they’re not exactly great at following “no trespassing” rules) to derechos, cyber-attacks, physical break-ins, electrical fires, broken water pipes, and many others.
One thing disasters have in common is the fact they cause outages, which, in turn, come with a steep price tag. A minute of downtime can cost a business $5,600. Since businesses operate in widely different ways, the costs they incur because of outages are also widely different, from $140,000 to $540,000 per hour.
Oftentimes, there are two big unknowns with disaster planning: what type of disaster is going to hit and when and how your business will be affected. It would be less of a disaster if you saw it coming. For instance, it’s one thing for your operations to have no internet connection to rely on and quite another to suffer from a power outage.
So how can you prepare when you don’t know the what or the when? You have to cover all your bases. Of course, this is easier said than done because you most likely have a lot of bases to cover. But you also have a lot to lose if your disaster recovery plan is not ready before the disaster hits.
Let’s get prepared.
What Your Disaster Recovery Plan Should Include
Not all disaster recovery plans are created equal. Nor should they be. Every business has a unique combination of hardware and software and a unique set of needs. Thus, you can’t simply “copy” someone else’s disaster recovery plan, no matter how much sense it makes for them.
You can (and should!) build your own based on a few principles:
1. A Detailed Inventory of all Your Hardware and Software
Take the time to review every app, solution, software, and piece of hardware you use. This is the foundation for finding the assets that are most vulnerable to a disaster.
Then make sure you have all the information you need about their vendors, warranty, and back-up options. With all this data handy, recovering after a disaster will simply entail pushing the right buttons.
2. How Long Can You Go Without Power or Internet?
This is, perhaps, the most important question to ask. If you run a carpeting business, you can probably survive on phone alone for weeks. But if you run an eCommerce business, even a few seconds can cost you a lot.
Ideally, all your applications should have an RPO (Recovery Point Objective) of a few milliseconds. But investing in such applications can get very expensive very fast. Before you invest in them, make sure you actually need to have a short RPO.
If the power goes out (which in turn, means the internet goes out), do you need battery backup? A generator? How long does the backup need to be able to last? These stopgap solutions can help maintain business continuity.
3. Assign Responsibilities
One of the things that delay disaster recovery is initial confusion. Everyone in your staff wants to help, but they don’t know what they should do. Eventually, they can even end up standing in each other’s way.
Your disaster recovery plan should include clear responsibilities for all staff members and even identify back-up personnel if needed. When the disaster strikes, everyone should know what to do.
4. Identify and Maintain Alternative Communication Channels
It’s so easy to overlook this basic disaster recovery plan pillar. How is your team going to communicate? If they’re used to email and Slack, they may not even have each other’s personal phone numbers.
Make sure to create a list of ways for your employees to be able to contact each other in case of an emergency.
5. Check Your SLAs for Disaster/Emergency Clauses
What happens if your cloud storage provider has an outage? Have they committed to a timeline of recovery? Will you continue to pay for services you can’t use?
Check your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for disaster and emergency clauses, so you know what you can count on in case of an outage.
6. Work with Reliable Data Centers (and Ask About Uptime)
Weather is unpredictable and you can’t blame a derecho on anyone. But you can blame your data center management for not taking the necessary precautions to minimize disruptions.
Your hosting provider should have a robust infrastructure in place, and you should have a plan to access your data even if you lose internet access.
The Heartland Technology Data Center—the Ideal Place to Weather a Storm
At HTDC, our main concern is the safety and availability of your data, no matter what. Besides using state-of-the-art cybersecurity protocols, we also make sure that our data center is able to withstand natural or man-made disasters with minimal or no interruptions.
We are a Tier III facility, with certified reliable uptime and a lot of redundancy. Plus, we use buried infrastructure whenever possible—overhead lines are more likely to be impacted by Iowa weather (wind, down trees, tornados). Better yet, customers with a private fiber connection to the data center can access data even in an internet outage.
Want to learn more about how HTDC can help you ensure business continuity even in case of a disaster? Schedule a visit to our facility or chat with our consultants.