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What goes into a disaster recovery program?

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Understanding what aspects of the infrastructure go into recovery strategies is critical to ensuring continuity.

Businesses around the world are subject to a number of risks that could prevent employees from accessing mission-critical information or connecting to the office phone system. These problems continue to proliferate as companies embrace innovative technologies, such as mobile devices, cloud computing and social media. Because most of these solutions are relatively new to the enterprise, employees may not be using them correctly, thus inadvertently inviting threats into the workplace.

Disasters are an unfortunate inevitability in the business world. Sometimes these events spawn from the activities of a malicious outsider who has breached the network and littered viruses throughout the data center, while other times organizations suffer at the accidental hands of an employee. While the origins of emergencies may differ between firms, the underlying message is the same: Executives must implement a disaster recovery program if they are to ensure their companies survive in the long run.

Because every company has different priorities and long-term goals, however, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all continuity strategy. While some sectors require agencies to incorporate specific solutions into their disaster recovery policies, other industries have a free-for-all mentality that forced decision-makers to take a step back and look at their resources to establish what is important. In most cases, communications - sometimes considered the keystone of the enterprise - should be integrated into a recovery initiative. For this reason, executives are replacing old phone systems with more innovative solutions that support this concept.

Aligning communications and disaster recovery

Traditional land line telephony solutions simply don't have the phone system features needed to ensure they can be restored in the wake of a disaster. By taking the time to plan ahead and working with trusted service providers, however, executives can implement the tools they need to ensure continuity strategies will be effective. A recent Business 2 Community report highlighted the importance of planning disaster recovery initiatives, noting that every detail is important, as one slight misstep can lead to downtime and mission-critical resources being unavailable.

Organizations need to eliminate any loopholes that may hinder employees from accessing crucial applications and data when their firms are in the most vulnerable state. In many cases, this means adopting an IP phone system that is agnostic to the endpoints trying to connect to it. Unlike outdated land line phone systems, VoIP and other technologies can be restored more quickly in the wake of an emergency. Additionally, these solutions support mobile connectivity, meaning individuals that are working from home or elsewhere outside of the office during an emergency are not stripped of their ability to communicate with colleagues, customers and partners.

Business 2 Community also highlighted the proliferation of the cloud and how its ongoing development is contributing to the enterprise's ability to quickly restore operations. By implementing a hosted PBX system, for example, decision-makers are given the power to keep their communications platform off-site, meaning it may be less susceptible to harm during a disaster.

Using the cloud for recovery

As cloud technologies mature, they are becoming a more realistic offering for organizations of all sizes. This was highlighted in a recent report by Acronis, which exemplified the benefits of migrating information to an off-site environment like the cloud, noting that the hosted solutions offer more robust data protection capabilities than traditional infrastructure services. This is important because data is the lifeline of the business world.

"There's no question that today's world cannot function without the data we create every day. Without our data, we cannot operate - at least not in the way we are accustomed. That's why having a plan in place and knowing what technology is out there to help keep data protected and secure at all times - during a hurricane or in our everyday lives - is so vital," said Blaine Raddon, general manager of Acronis.

Because natural and man-made disasters are often unavoidable for most businesses, the best thing companies can do is prepare. By being aware and understanding that emergencies are sometimes inevitable, decision-makers can make the necessary adjustments to their infrastructure and philosophy to ensure mission-critical resources are always on-call for employees.

Cloud computing is among the most disruptive forces to hit the IT landscape in some time, providing executives with new opportunities to migrate communication applications and other crucial assets to safe, off-site environments that are managed by a trusted third party. In the coming years, companies need to implement well-rounded disaster recovery initiatives to ensure operations can always run efficiently, regardless of external and uncontrollable circumstances. While a number of tools need to be integrated into these policies, enterprise VoIP or cloud-based phone systems must be among them, as organizations that cannot communicate will not be able to survive.