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Businesses Must Develop More Effective Disaster Recovery Plans

Enterprises Continue to Struggle When Developing and Testing Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Programs, Leaving Operations at Risk During Emergencies

The rapidly evolving threat landscape has made it more important than ever that companies implement comprehensive disaster recovery programs in case they encounter natural or man-made challenges that shut down corporate activity. While enterprises have long understood the importance of developing strong business continuity efforts to support a remote workforce in the wake of an emergency, many decision-makers are still not following best practices when launching these initiatives. As a result, organizations often encounter unnecessary obstacles when bringing operations back online in a post-disaster scenario, reducing their ability to compete and stay productive.

Unfortunately, there is not necessarily one common problem with enterprise disaster recovery programs. Instead, there is a multitude of issues. Sometimes firms simply neglect to incorporate business phone systems into these initiatives, inhibiting communications after a catastrophe. In other cases, executives fail to keep their continuity plans up to date, resulting in employees using outdated information when the organization as a whole is most vulnerable.

A recent study by The Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council highlighted these findings, noting that roughly three-quarters of enterprises do not have the proper strategies in place to ensure they can successfully survive an uncontrollable emergency. This suggests that businesses need to get their act together and address numerous issues if they are to experience long-term prosperity.

Companies Need Disaster Recovery Help

The DRP Council revealed that only 28 percent of companies received a grade of an A, B or C when their continuity plan was assessed, suggesting that only slightly more than a quarter of enterprises have a passing disaster recovery program that will ensure their survival in the wake of an emergency. The remaining 72 percent achieved failing grades, which should encourage decision-makers to take a step back and reassess their strategies.

Still, there are numerous reasons why disasters occur, with software or network failure categorized as the primary driver and contributing to more than half of all disasters experienced in the business world. Other factors included human error, which made up 41 percent of all incidents, as well as power failure and uncontrollable weather circumstances. This suggests that natural phenomena are not necessarily the main concern for companies, as technology and employees are the leading causes behind operational problems.

"Initial results from the Disaster Recovery Preparedness survey are startling and highlight the need for IT organizations to significantly improve their DR processes. It's clear that many end users are not aware of the fact that today there are cost-effective methods of automating all aspects of disaster recovery, from planning and implementation to, perhaps most importantly, DR testing," said Dave Simpson, senior storage analyst at 451 Research.

The survey found that 36 percent of enterprises lost access to critical applications and solutions for multiple hours, including office phone systems and storage databases. Another 11 percent of firms could not use these tools for days. If decision-makers do not implement the proper steps to restore these crippled operations, they will find themselves struggling to survive in the long run.

Picking Up Disaster Recovery Shortfalls

Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents did not have a fully documented disaster recovery program, while 40 percent of decision-makers said their initiatives did not hold up well in catastrophic incidents. The study also found that companies develop excuses for these shortcomings, including that they do not have the skills or financial stability to create and test comprehensive continuity efforts.

This should not be the case, especially now that cloud computing is beginning to leave its mark on the business world. A Computer Weekly and TechTarget survey revealed that only a small portion of firms are currently using cloud for disaster recovery purposes, though more organizations will likely do so in the coming years as enterprise executives recognize the financial, operational and performance benefits that come along with these strategies. Not only can the cloud support a remote workforce in a post-emergency environment, but companies can also implement hosted PBX solutions to improve communication between internal and external parties at all times, regardless of how efficiently premise-based tools are running.

Progressive decision-makers need to take the time to analyze how they operate on a daily basis and consider how moving their enterprise VoIP, storage and other applications will ensure those processes can be restored after a natural or, more commonly, man-made disaster. Rather than launching a one-and-done continuity plan, executives need to understand the importance of regularly testing, evaluating and updating disaster recovery strategies to ensure employees can stay productive at all times, especially when a firm is most vulnerable after an emergency. By planning ahead and implementing cloud-based technologies, organizations will likely improve their ability to compete and thrive, regardless of what uncontrollable circumstances come their way.