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In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we’re reminded that natural disasters can strike at any time. To that end, having a disaster recovery plan is paramount for resuming operations. Today, more than ever, business use information technology (IT) in their daily activities from data transfers and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) to electronic mail and physical, electronic equipment. But what happens when IT stops working?

IT and Business Go Hand in Hand

You cannot design an IT Disaster Recovery Plan without developing a Business Continuity Plan. Though these two plans are not synonymous, the IT Disaster Recovery Plan is a valuable part of the Business Continuity Plan as IT plays a leading role in how businesses operate today. A Business Continuity Plan creates a strategy to ensure personnel and assets are protected, and the business can run shortly after that, resume operations, in the event of a disaster.

What to Consider When Designing an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

IT systems are complex and involve hardware, software, data, and connectivity to operate effectivity. A loss of any component of the IT system may result in the entire system failing. Your recovery plan should examine each element:
• Server and computer rooms – If on-site, these rooms should be secure with climate control and backup power supplies in the event of a power outage.
• Hardware – Consider what’s to be done with desktops, laptops, network hardware, and wireless devices
• Connectivity – Consider what to do if you experience a loss of network connectivity through your Internet Service Provider on site.
• Software applications – Loss of function of email, electronic data interchange, enterprise resource management, and office applications can severely damage operations.
• Data – Data issues can range from breaches to loss of function and the need to restore data back to functionality.

Impact on Your Business

Your IT Disaster Recovery Plan will include how long your company can sustain downtimes and lack of full functionality before severe damage and loss occur in your business. This threshold is determined in a Business Impact Analysis and will direct the design of your recovery planning.

Some businesses cannot tolerate long or any downtime at all and utilize large data centers and backup centers off-site to handle processing needs. These data centers run parallel with operations and data is synchronized or mirrored between the two centers. Unfortunately, this type of planning is costly to execute, and small to medium-sized enterprises can’t afford the backup.

Cost Effective Recovery Planning

Owning or contract a data center to mirror your company’s IT systems is expensive and time-consuming. Backups and mirroring efforts can take more time and cost more than other solutions you can find with a cloud service provider that offers disaster recovery solutions as part of its service package. Choosing the right cloud communications partner is crucial to effectivity run your business, but you should also consider the service they offer in the event of disaster and incorporate them into your plan.

Data Center Mirroring vs. Virtualization

Conventional disaster recovery planning is costly and can extend downtimes. Virtualization takes a new, fast approach to disaster recovery. The benefits of virtualization are the entire server, including the operating systems, applications, data, and patches is contained in a single virtual server that can be replicated in minutes on a virtual host. Virtualization also means you are not hardware dependent on site and thin clients have few physical components. Essentially, the thin client is a display that allows you to connect to via a network. Hard drives, memory, operating systems, and applications are no longer necessary when you choose to use virtualization.

Virtualization makes cold site disaster recovery planning a thing of the past. Cold sites in disaster recovery planning are third party or secondary physical space equipment with hardware, software, and network operations that allow business to resume business operations temporarily. Virtualization removes the need for secondary space.

Virtualization and cloud services have a host of other business uses outside of disaster recovery as well. Companies who run virtualization through a third-party vendor can allow employees to work from and remotely on the road through secure connections. A unified communications provider can help your company design a cost-effective IT plan that includes disaster recovery, data backups, virtualization, network continuity, security, and more as well offering excellent communications solutions for your business. Your company can benefit by choosing the right unified communications service provider for your all your communications business needs.