Summer has had an unprecedented start this year, with thunderstorms, flooding and heavy rain hitting Australia’s east coast, and meteorologists reporting that the worst isn’t over yet.
Australia is no stranger to volatile weather, and with bushfire season quickly approaching, we’re reminded of the powerful effects of unpredictable and extreme weather conditions and the economic impact of devastation and effect on people and communities. And how swiftly key infrastructure and services can go offline causing chaos and disruption to consumers and businesses.
In times of crisis, it’s important to keep the most critical functions up and running, from medical services and utilities, to access to infrastructure such as bridges and roads, banks and continued support for the vulnerable members of society. And in a highly digitised world, re-establishing internet/wireless connectivity and data centre operations are also critical to community recovery efforts.
Being better prepared for the unexpected
We’ve seen significant technological progress over the past few years from wireless networks and connectivity progress, to cloud innovations enabling better access to data/systems. But tech and security chiefs need to do more to ensure their organisations are truly prepared for when disaster strikes, natural or otherwise.
There are many ways companies can better prepare themselves. Unexpected downtime for data and applications can be incredibly costly to Australian organisations, but most importantly, costly for the rest of society with so many services reliant on technology being up and running.
Having protocols already in place that can be quickly acted upon can mean the difference between a major, business-changing catastrophe and an incident far less severe. Data recovery and IT resilience minimises loss of priceless data, assets and critical functions of a business.
Building a robust disaster recovery strategy
Disaster recovery strategies through a hybrid cloud environment allows organisations to be proactive in the face of natural disasters, severe weather as well as malware, human error or hardware error.
For those situations where an organisation can be easily caught out by the unexpected, IT leaders can react quickly within minutes. Lacking the infrastructure dependencies that prevent easy movement, critical applications can securely live and move between multiple on-premise and cloud environments.
The financial cost and societal benefits associated with reviewing your DR strategy should be enough, but the true value comes from genuinely ensuring the organisation is protected when it needs it the most.
Business critical applications are increasing with digital transformation driving this growth; the customer is at the centre and expects an "always on" customer experience. For the IT department, managing the planned and unplanned is true IT resilience to ensure business availability.
Here are three steps you can take to prepare for a disaster.
1. Test and test again
An important part of organisational risk reduction is validating the application protection infrastructure. Simply implementing a strategy is not enough. Continuous testing should be an integral and regular part of the DR strategy to ensure if disaster strikes, an organisation can be confident that applications will recover in a consistent state, and have a very clear idea of much downtime the company will be exposed to.
2. Create resiliency-in-layers
This means a secondary (or more), geographically and meteorologically diverse, off-premise recovery data centre. This ensures that, should anything happen to your primary site, you will always have the redundant location to reduce the risk of an extended outage altogether. Use a managed service provider (MSP) or cloud service provider (CSP).
Also, while every public cloud outage demonstrates that it’s not immune to catastrophes, looking at public cloud as a part of your resiliency-in-layers, hybrid-based plan can be a cost-effective way to get a third or more site and add some geo and meteorological diversity to your plan.
3. Simplify your architecture
The more complex a DR solution, the more things that can go wrong. The more moving parts you have, and the more platforms and people involved, the more likely that one of those moving parts will fail at a critical time.
Looking at solutions that can cover all data and applications critical to your company removes the organisational and technological risk. By simplifying your architecture, you reduce the moving parts and points of failure.
Taking the first steps toward addressing technology resilience can help tackle more challenging macro societal issues. And the quicker a company can recover data, the less an effect it will have on its business, brand reputation and customers.
Andrew Martin is vice president APJ at Zerto.
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