In the last several years, businesses across Canada have had to deal with myriad unforeseen and unavoidable disasters. Of course, in 2020, Canadian businesses had to learn to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, but that was followed by a Calgary hailstorm that caused over $1 billion in damage, an unrelenting wildfire season, heatwaves, and flooding in 2021. Who knows what 2022 will bring?
Businesses in the path of these disasters were impacted, and some were forced to close. While you might not be able to predict when a disaster will hit, you can prepare for one ahead of time. Agile IT environments create a situation that allows you to respond no matter what arises. We’ve assembled a proactive checklist that can aid your disaster preparedness and improve your organization’s ability to face whatever the future brings.
Checklist for Your Disaster Recovery Plan: How to Create Agile IT Environments Ready for Any Crisis
Determine your Recovery Objectives
How much data loss can you sustain?
How long can your organization afford to be down?
There are two measures that should guide your company in creating a disaster recovery plan – RPO and RTO. RPO – or Recovery Point Objective – quantifies your business’s tolerance for data loss. That means that if your systems were to fail, how far back could you pull a backup from and still continue to operate effectively? Obviously, this scale will be completely different for different organizations based on their business. Some may easily be able to pull data from 48 hours ago and still function fine, while the tolerance for those with a high volume of transactions may literally be a matter of minutes. RTO – or Recovery Time Objective – specifies the amount of time your systems can be down before significant losses occur. Again, one organization might only be able to function for a few minutes, while another could manage several days’ worth of downtime.
Once you can quantify these two objectives, your IT consultants will be able to determine which solutions are appropriate for you. Typically, basic solutions will suffice for longer RPO and RTO windows, while shorter windows require more advanced solutions.
Ensure High Availability
Are failover systems ready to take over?
As you create your disaster recovery plan, you’ll want to ensure that you build high availability into your infrastructure. High availability describes systems that are reliable enough to function continuously without fail. It’s likely that you have several mission-critical systems that require high availability – even if they are something as fundamental as the internet or email. To achieve high availability, your IT experts will put redundant components in place to ensure dependability.
Yet true high availability systems go far beyond redundancy. Your IT consultants will put mechanisms in place that proactively detect failures in critical systems and take action if one occurs. For example, if your facility was impacted by a flood that damaged your hardware, your failover process should automatically move processing performed by the failed component to an offsite backup.
Create a Remote Ready System
Are you prepared for remote work by utilizing cloud capabilities?
Can employees access resources securely from anywhere?
Thanks to the pandemic, most businesses got a crash course in working remotely. That doesn’t mean that every business did so effectively, or that all are prepared to move back to remote or hybrid solutions if they are required.
The first thing you should do to prepare for working remotely is assess your security. Make sure that you have a VPN in place so employees can access their systems from anywhere. Then, ensure that your firewall is configured for remote work and with security in mind. Next, consider whether you are leveraging cloud capabilities not just for access, but for safety as well. Once you have remote access capabilities set up, you will be much better prepared for any circumstances that prevent employees from working in a fixed location, such as your office.
Improve the Overall Security of Your Network
Have you put measures in place to prevent cyberattacks and criminal data theft?
It’s 2022, and we now understand that no business – no matter how large or small – is safe from cyberattacks. We have seen some of the largest organizations in the world (Target, Marriott, and more) become victims of cybercrime. That’s why it’s critical to remain vigilant about security.
While no solution can 100% guarantee safety, layering complex security measures makes it more difficult for criminals to gain entry, and criminals favor easy targets.
A few layers we recommend include setting up a VPN, using multi-factor authentication, and securing passwords. These measures are fairly easy to implement and at the same time, establish a solid first line of defense against cybercriminals.
Have an Accurate Picture of Your Network
What are the limitations and behaviors of your network?
If you are not a trained IT expert, it can be intimidating and challenging to truly understand what your network looks like. Yet investing time in understanding how your network behaves and its limitations can help you find areas that need improvement. These alterations can help prepare your business for future unforeseen events.
One simple way to accomplish this is by setting up an assessment with any IT provider. They can evaluate your entire IT infrastructure or a particular piece, such as your network. This assessment will give you an accurate representation of your system as well as any insights the IT provider might have for your future safety and functionality.
This step is particularly critical because it will give you actionable suggestions customized to your business. While online resources may give you a general idea of where to start with some helpful tips (like Dyrand’s article here), an assessment from an MSP looks at your environment and offers specific recommendations.
Here at Dyrand, we’ll help apply the appropriate technology solutions for your business. We understand that every organization has a unique business and culture and will partner with you to create a more resilient and agile technology environment designed for you. No matter what challenges are ahead, we’re here to assist.
Don’t forget your free downloadable disaster recovery plan checklist! How to Create Agile IT Environments Ready for Any Crisis