Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery: Adapting To Changing Times

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity have been key business priorities for enterprises even in the pre-Covid-19 world.  In addition to natural disasters and calamities, the increasing number of ransomware and other cyber incidents too compelled organizations to adopt DR/BC plans in recent years. The cost of not having an effective DR plan was way too high. This certainly was a welcome change from the traditional mindset towards DR as something expensive with significantly less RoI. DR became more than just a ‘check the box’ function– it had to work during times of crises.

However, Covid-19 has thrown everything out of gear, and DR is no exception. This global pandemic is unlike any other crisis we have ever faced—in magnitude and impact. Most disaster recovery plans were made for regional and short-lived events like hurricanes or earthquakes or revolved around returning from an unforeseen cyber incident or outage. Worst still, until recently, many DR/BC plans were more ‘theoretical’ and untested or mostly tested under ideal situations.

According to Gartner’s recent Business Continuity Survey, just about 12 percent of organizations are highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus.

What is changing?

Across the world, Covid-19 has triggered significant business disruption. Existing business continuity plans unearthed plenty of deficiencies.

During the pandemic, a large part of the global workforce was suddenly required to work remotely. Stringent travel restrictions were imposed across countries. Remote working took employees away from the central offices and data centers at the center of DR/BC plans.

Internet, corporate networks, VPNs, and cloud resources were all under tremendous stress as employees accessed data remotely. Customers, vendors, and suppliers are spread across multiple geographies in today’s borderless world. Systems and network availability have become more crucial for organizations to ensure business continuity.

Work-from-home also resulted in a dramatic increase in ransomware attacks and other cybersecurity incidents due to distributed workforce. All of this and many unprecedented challenges have forced organizations to review their business continuity and disaster recovery plans from both a short-term and long-term perspective.

Cloud comes to the rescue as businesses revisit DR Plan

There have been plenty of learnings for enterprises from a DR/BC point of view. For one, organizations have now realized that they need a DR plan that works in numerous unforeseen circumstances—what works for a tornado doesn’t work for a global pandemic!

But they also need to consider the budgetary constraints more than before.

Recent market studies indicate that new models of DR are emerging as businesses navigate the ongoing crisis. The quick uptick in cloud-based DR systems and Disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) points to this evolving trend. As the pandemic unfolds in many ways, organizations have extensively taken to cloud to enable WFH and ensure business continuity.

A recent study highlights that DRaaS has been considered and implemented by many businesses globally as faster data recovery has become necessary. Here are some immediate advantages that cloud-based DR offers during the pandemic.

Advantages of  cloud-based Disaster Recovery offers

TCO and capex reduction: With stringent budgetary restrictions, cloud-based DR systems offer businesses flexibility and savings through a pay-per-use model. No upfront investment to deploy duplicate compute and storage infrastructure.

Quick to deploy: Cloud brings in the ability to launch a DR system across multiple locations much faster than on-prem models.

Runs on less resource: Cloud-based DR systems typically require fewer IT resources to launch or maintain services.

Reduces overall complexity: Cloud eliminates the need to purchase duplicate software licenses and facilitates seamless failover, easy testability, and a self-service experience.

Improved reliability: A resilient cloud-based DR system offers features that ensure sub-second recovery point objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) of minutes—the two key metrics of a reliable DR system.

Moving beyond technology

Organizations need to radically widen the scope of their BC plans in the post-Covid-19 world while being highly proactive. Along with the many technical and security-related challenges thrown at our current DR strategies, organizations now have to consider how the pandemic has impacted the psyche and morale of our workforce. From a disaster recovery point of view, this is one of the greatest learning for organizations. So far, DR plans used to focus solely on the recovery of our IT systems. Covid-19 tells us that we must look beyond that and work on recovering the workforce, processes, and policies.


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