Managed Recovery Program
Despite best laid plans, sooner or later every business will have their services interrupted due to technical faults, viruses, disasters etc. If there is a well designed, tried and tested Managed Recovery Program in place, the downtime will be short lived and the users may not notice. However, there is no readymade Managed Recovery Program since the business needs of each organization varies widely, so much so that a standard one size fits all scenario is next to impossible.
Designing a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan is not difficult, but takes dedication, spending money upfront and the whole hearted backing of top managers. The two fundamental aspects of a Managed Recovery Program are the Recovery Time Objective [RTO] and Recovery Point Objective [RPO].
Recovery Time Objective
This depends of an organizations business needs. It defines the maximum acceptable duration of production down-time. Beyond this there will be unacceptable business losses.
Recovery Point Objective
This factor refers to the maximum amount of data loss permitted due to a major incident. This is a metric which is directly proportional to the way the data is used for business operations. If it is mission-critical data, then even a few minutes of down-time could have serious business and financial impact. For less critical data the RPO can be longer.
These two metrics, RTO and RPO have a direct impact on the business’s bottom line. The smaller these two metrics are, costlier they will be to maintain and run. This is due to the fact that for smaller RTO and RPO values, the complexity associated with the value increases directly in proportion to the decrease in time. For extremely small values of RTO and RPO, physically separate data centers to manage replication of data and other associated aspects may be needed, so as to ensure the targeted RTO and RPO metrics are met.
Using the cloud for replication as a part of Managed Recovery Program
There are many advantages of using a cloud as a platform for Managed Recovery Program. Some of the advantages are:
- Capacity – the required capacity can be scaled upwards as needed, without delay
- Security – after due diligence of the service provider, adequate security of replicated data can be assured
- Network infrastructure – as a part of the service, infrastructure such as load balancers, firewalls etc. will be an added advantage
- Support – a reputed cloud service provider will have highly experienced and skilled technical staff to address issues and ensure the service is maintained at a high level of efficiency
- Bandwidth – even if there is a sudden surge in the load, the cloud will have sufficient bandwidth to absorb it and maintain speed of data transfer
- The cloud offers many advantages compared to maintaining an off-site production center to replicate data. Since an organization needs only pay for the cloud services that are used, it is very cost-effective too. If the production site is damaged and equipment cannot be accessed, then the option of a virtual desktop in the cloud is available and production can continue within the specified RTO and RPO values.
Design the Managed Recovery Program depending on the recovery needs of the business
A Managed Recovery Program has to be designed according to business needs only and should not be overdesigned. This will needlessly add to the costs. Also, the Managed Recovery Program should be designed for end to end recovery which includes back-ups, restores and clean-up.
To ensure that the Managed Recovery Program is efficient the following factors will help:
- The DR plan should be task specific. As soon as a disaster is declared, the plan should take the response team step by step towards recovery without having to guess the next step.
- Implement disaster control and mitigation strategies to control disasters from happening or in the event it does, advance steps for mitigation should be in place as a part of the plan
- Security environment as a part of the Managed Recovery Program should be considered carefully. The standard security plan should be meshed and be in synch with the DR plan.
- All software licenses should be current and up to date. The business should ensure that any software being used as a part of Managed Recovery Program is also having an up to date license.
- Maintain more than one data recovery path. This redundancy gives additional leeway during a disaster recovery scenario.
- Test and update the plan regularly. Adequate training should be given to staff so that they can move into their DR roles without any hiccups.
A Managed Recovery Program is an essential tool for business survival. It may cost money up-front and may not be used for years, however, when the day comes, the business can face and overcome the disaster with confidence.