December 3, 2019
Disaster Recovery Testing and Why Your Business Needs It
Long gone are the days when business documents were stored in notepads. Thanks to computers, we now have more efficient solutions for accumulating data and making sure no information gets lost in a dusty archive. Nonetheless, the advent of new technologies has brought along with it a series of new challenges. However reliable they may be, machines are still not immune to failure. And when they do crash, it is sometimes impossible to restore or retrieve the lost data. Thankfully, there is a way to mitigate the risks, and that is to design a detailed disaster recovery (DR) plan.
Statistics show that 95% of companies worldwide invest considerable resources in planning for the worst. However, only 72% of them use disaster recovery testing to check the veracity of their plan in action. The other 23% simply hope for the best, risking losing both profit and customers in the event an actual outage occurs. The truth is that without thorough testing, even a brilliant plan is doomed to fail. Read on to learn how to develop a DR testing strategy for your company and why it should include NAKIVO Backup & Replication.
What Is Disaster Recovery Testing?
Disaster recovery testing involves simulating an IT failure or any other type of business disruption to assess a DR plan. The main objective of disaster testing is to check if an organization can restore operations within the planned time. As a result, you can see how the system behaves if any part of your infrastructure becomes unavailable. This information will help you amend the plan and fix any weak links before a real disruption happens.
Keep in mind that disaster recovery testing should not be limited to the technical components of your organization. It is just as important to test your employees to ensure that everyone is on board with the plan.
It should also be noted that disaster recovery plan testing should be conducted regularly, preferably a few times per year. Business environments are prone to change, which in turn call for the appropriate amendments to your DR plan. It is worth incorporating regular DR tests into your maintenance plan and staff training agenda.
Why Your Business Needs Regular Disaster Recovery Testing
You can insure your business against losses, but no insurance policy can replace the data lost during an outage. The only way to truly protect your documents and files is to create a DR plan and run regular tests. If you are still not convinced that testing the disaster recovery plan is necessary, see the list of business risks you may face otherwise.
Nearly 80% of unplanned downtime is caused by IT failures and power outages. Network issues, faulty wiring and drivers are all out of your control. Sure, you can invest in state-of-the-art power surge protectors and cooling systems. However, if your hardware fails at some point, it will shut down right along with the data. Would you like to ensure the lowest possible recovery time objective in the event of system failure? We recommend storing backups in an offsite storage site as it is highly unlikely that both the primary and secondary locations will fail simultaneously.
Nature and technology often seem to exist within two separate planes. Still, make no mistake: natural disasters can cost your business greatly. Companies lose billions of dollars yearly recovering from fires, floods, storms, etc. In 80% of cases, if a company closes for longer than a week, it never resumes operations again. Factor possible natural disasters into your recovery plan and run disaster recovery testing to see if your staff and infrastructure are ready.
People are not perfect. And as long as humans are involved, mistakes are inevitable. It can be anything from accidentally deleting an important file to simply clicking the wrong button. Employee training can help a lot, but there is no way to guarantee that mishaps will never happen. However, backing up your data regularly can minimize the damage and save your company from permanent losses. Whatever backup solution you choose, don’t forget to study the best practices for disaster recovery testing and include them in your strategy.
More and more organizations are relying on digital information for their daily operations, and criminals are taking notice. Hackers now can access companies’ networks to steal the data or inject a virus. However, 95% of companies that invest in disaster recovery testing manage to fight back. By running DR tests beforehand, you can identify existing infrastructure vulnerabilities beforehand and fix them before these vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers, thus putting your system at risk.
Modern consumers are extremely demanding. They expect every service to be available 24/7 without any disruptions. The more time you take to recover, the more customers you risk losing to your competitors. Do not let the high expectations of consumers put you out of business. First and foremost, you need to implement a reliable backup solution with an offsite storage facility. This way, you will be able to resume operations in the shortest time possible before your clients even notice an outage has taken place.
Cost of downtime
Every business owner knows how much money their company makes in a minute. Now imagine how much money you will lose in two or three hours of downtime. It may seem like a short period of time, but the losses can sometimes be huge. This is especially true during peak hours when your services or products are most in demand. Investing in a quality backup and replication solution allows you to minimize the losses and achieve business continuity. Running DR tests can give you a real understanding of your RTO and RPO and help you adjust your plan as necessary.
It is no secret that acquiring new customers is harder and more expensive than retaining existing ones. Also, it is twice as hard to re-acquire the old customers who switched to your competitors after an IT failure. Once the trust is gone, it is nearly impossible to regain it. Especially if your outage had cost your clients losses as well, which is not uncommon in the era of outsourcing.
This point goes hand in hand with the previous one. Every business strives to gain a reputation as a reliable partner. Once you do, losing it is probably the worst-case scenario. Needless to say, it is extremely hard to restore a damaged reputation after a prolonged disruption that caused your customers downtime. Make sure you use the best disaster recovery testing practices to rest assured that your reputation is safe.
We live in the digital age where business continuity is not just a mere convenience anymore – it is a requirement. In many industries, 24/7 access to data and applications is crucial. These include healthcare organizations, financial markets, huge enterprises, and government entities. All of them must follow strict regulations like HIPAA and FINRA which require having a disaster recovery plan and abiding by a specific uptime. This means that regular disaster recovery testing can help your company not only minimize the downtime but also maintain the necessary certifications.
Learning from mistakes
Probably the most under-recognized reason for testing the disaster recovery plan is the opportunity it provides to learn from your experience. You will soon realize that every recovery job is different from the previous one. Backup and recovery analysis can give you a deep insight into the real state of your IT infrastructure. This information is key for reducing your data storage costs, improving the RTO and RPO, and advancing your overall approach to data protection.
Disaster Recovery Testing Methods
Now that you know how important disaster recovery testing is, let us demonstrate how you can perform it. Below you can find the four most popular testing methods. Consider them closely before deciding which provides the right approach for your organization.
- Plan review
This is a great starting point as it is the most basic option. A plan review involves analyzing the current plan and looking over every point in order to spot the outdated or missing parts.
- Tabletop run-through
In this case, the DR team conducts a plan walk-though step by step as if a real disaster has happened. This method helps identify potential blind spots and hidden issues.
- Scenario simulation
This method involves executing the DR plan in a test environment with no disruption to the production workflow. The simulation is run according to specific recovery scenarios.
- Full disaster recovery simulation
This method is similar to the simulation described above, but this time the scenario includes the total failure of operations in your main site. The method involves attempting a full recovery from an offsite storage.
These are the best disaster recovery testing practices that are successfully being used in many organizations around the world. Choose one or combine several different methods to achieve the best possible results.
Data Protection with NAKIVO Backup & Replication
If you are looking for a reliable data protection solution, give NAKIVO Backup & Replication a try! It allows you to automate your backup jobs and disaster recovery processes while ensuring data integrity across various platforms (physical, virtual, or cloud). Thanks to the Replication feature, you can easily replicate your VMs locally or offsite. This means that if your primary VM fails, you are able boot its replica and resume operations in no time. As soon as your main VM recovers, you can just as easily switch the workload back to the production environment.
Testing the disaster recovery plan with NAKIVO Backup & Replication 9.1 should be as easy as 1-2-3. The updated Instant Verification feature can automatically check the validity of your backups and replicas each time a recovery point is created. To verify the recoverability of your VMware or Hyper-V VMs, the solution can take OS screenshots or check if hypervisor tools are properly running.
Another feature that can help you with disaster recovery testing is Site Recovery. This allows you to create various site recovery workflows by combining different actions and conditions into fully automated recovery scenarios. These may include starting/stopping/failing over/or failing back your VMs/instances, running/stopping/enabling/disabling jobs, sending notifications, etc. With the Site Recovery feature, it is easy to run SR workflows in a test mode without disrupting your production environment.
We hope that now you have a better understanding of how neglecting disaster recovery testing may put your business at serious risk. The world is unpredictable, and you never know when a disaster might strike. But it is in your hands to protect your crucial data and applications by designing a contingency plan and running DR tests to see your recovery plan in action. Every day that you are not proactive, you risk jeopardizing the future of your brand. With NAKIVO Backup & Replication, you can turn any disaster into a temporary problem that is easy to solve.