In the past, enterprises were left to their own devices when it came to business continuity and disaster recovery. The DR process was a considerable undertaking for any company, but was essential to ensure that a firm would be prepared for the worst.
The face of disaster recovery has changed significantly since then as DR-as-a-service becomes increasingly popular. Today's organizations can have a partner by their side to help guarantee that their critical business processes will continue.
With disaster recovery and business continuity, businesses must shake the idea of a set-it-and-forget-it model. In order to fully protect a company and its essential technologies, these plans must be continually re-examined and updated.
Disaster recovery-as-a-service: DR takes center stage
Bryan Balfe, CommVault enterprise account manager and DR expert, noted that although disaster recovery is by no means a new concept, it was common for the practice to fall "below-the-line" in many business circles. This often came as the result of a lack of funding, or, a simple lack of knowledge about what a proper DR plan should encompass.
"Organizations that did have DR solutions in place were typically those with deep pockets or in industries that mandated it," Balfe told ITWeb. "The approach was expensive and resource-intensive, requiring duplicate resources to be kept online at offsite locations - owned and operated by an organization's internal IT staff, or by outsourcing providers who often specialized in DR."
Now, the latter process of contracting an external DR partner has become increasingly popular and cost-efficient, making business continuity more accessible for even the smallest startup. This is leading to considerable market growth in the DRaaS sector: Markets and Markets predicts that the industry will reach a value of $5.77 billion by 2018, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 55.2 percent.
Gartner analyst John Morency noted that the many misconceptions about DRaaS are beginning to disappear.
"Today, IT leaders believe, for instance, that by implementing DRaaS, they will be able to simplify IT disaster recovery management and reduce costs," Morency said. "They also believe that DRaaS will provide failover and failback whenever they need it and that DRaaS will operate equally effectively in production configurations of any size."
Is it time to update? Factors impacting DR plans
Whether a company implements DR plans on its own or with the help of a DRaaS provider, it is important to keep in mind that these processes must adjust themselves according to changing factors.
TechTarget contributor Frank Lady pointed out that one of the most important factors to consider here is the business's IT environment. DR plans should be updated so that all newly deployed technology is included, and staff members must understand the changes.
"Because IT environments constantly fluctuate, you should change your disaster recovery plan accordingly, so that your codes and staff are up-to-date with any changes," Lady wrote. "Some of the most common environmental IT changes are hardware and software updates, outdated or replaced appliances, staffing changes, down-structuring and new facilities and buildings."
In addition, business leaders should consider external factors that might affect their DR plans, including industry regulatory bodies or other governmental groups. These organizations could implement new rules that might impact the company's DR processes.
Whatever the case, it's critical that DR plans are updated on a regular basis. Lady noted that just how often this occurs will be up to the business and its unique situation.
"[U]ltimately, you should update your disaster recovery plan whenever an important factor in your organization changes, whether that variable is internal or external," Lady wrote. "Frequent updates lead to more complete and reliable disaster recovery plans, which therefore lead to a work environment safe from disasters."