What happens if you, and everyone else in your business is doing their work, when suddenly, the screen goes blank? Your business management software has failed. If you don’t know what to do, you are in big trouble. This is a scenario that requires planning in advance. When you lack a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan, your business software—and as a result, your entire business—could be non-functioning for a very long time.
Planning for a Disaster
DR is an IT discipline that aims to bring a company’s IT systems back into operation in the event of a disruption. This could be due to a natural event like an earthquake, a system outage or a security incident. The DR plan puts backup systems into action, complete with needed data.
DR has changed recently with the advent of enterprise-grade public cloud computing. Before the cloud, a company interested in DR would have to create a physical backup site, or sites. They would copy their data and put it in off-site storage facilities. Then, they would set up duplicates of their existing infrastructure in distant locations. Usually, these sites relied on different power grids and communication networks.
A DR plan holds by several key metrics. The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the target length of time between an outage and the backup system coming online. The Recovery Point Objective (RPO) determines how far back in the sequence of transactions the backup system needs to go to keep the business running. When a system goes down, the handoff to the backup site is known as “failover.” The shorter the RTO and RPO, the more challenging the DR plan.
The cloud enables you to set up a backup instance of your business software almost instantly. The cloud has essentially unlimited capacity. You can back your business data up to the cloud, in multiple locations if necessary. You can also configure a cloud version of your business software to run as a mirror to your on-premises application. This takes some skills and an investment of time. However, compared to setting up physical DR sites, it’s much more efficient and economical.
Cloud-based software like Acumatica Cloud ERP or Microsoft Dynamics 365 usually embeds DR features right into the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering. This makes sense, as they are already hosting it in the cloud. They can facilitate failover instances and data backups with relative ease. You still have to configure the DR settings in your instance, however.
Devising a DR Plan
We have worked with many companies on the development and implementation of DR plans. It’s a process that involves thinking through how a business actually runs. What’s most important? What systems can you live without for a given period of time? Which systems need the fastest RTOs and RPOs, e.g. can System A be down for an hour without affecting the business, versus System B, which may need to be back online in seconds or it starts to affect customer experience? From these determinations, it is then possible to set a priority or backups and failovers.