Managed services key to making disaster recovery planning stick

Managed services can help organizations eliminate one of their biggest pain points – disaster recovery. Establishing and upholding continuity and contingency plans can be complicated and resource-intensive. Many businesses, especially fledgling ones, choose to shove disaster recovery planning on the back burner. Over time, the lack of attention paid to disaster recovery planning puts organizations at risk.

According to a recent study by The Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council, many organizations are woefully unprepared for disaster to strike. Its global survey of more than 1,000 organizations, from small businesses to large corporations, found that a whopping 73 percent of organizations do not have adequate disaster recovery plans in place. Its other findings include:

  • 64 percent of respondents said that their organizations’ disaster recovery efforts are underfunded.
  • More than 60 percent do not have fully documented plans.
  • Among the 40 percent that do have documented plans, 23 percent have never actually tested them to see if they work.
  • Of respondents that experienced outages, almost 30 percent lost data center functionality for days or weeks at a time.

Since there’s no way of knowing when and how a potential disaster may occur, companies are gambling with their future every day they don’t do something about their disaster recovery and business continuity planning efforts. Being proactive is the only way to successfully combat the effects of unplanned events.

Managed services can help organizations establish a meaningful, up-to-date disaster recovery system. They can provide concentrated data backup and system recovery services beyond those a business has the budget or time to uphold, noted MSPmentor. Keeping systems current, especially when an organization adds a new application or hardware, is key to eliminating vulnerabilities that stem from outdated disaster recovery plans.

Proactive risk mitigation is important. Managed services providers can help organizations develop recovery time objectives for business-critical applications and conduct automated recovery testing. Having a dedicated IT staff on hand relieves companies of having to make their forays into the difficult science of disaster recovery and business continuity planning alone.

Connecting the dots: Bandwidth as a business model

Few developments have affected businesses in the past few years as much as the burning desire for bandwidth. As enterprise environments expand, complications are inevitable. Proper information storage and security are increasingly vital as more businesses transition to data-driven initiatives. They're also becoming harder to attain. Many organizations find themselves caught in a tangled web of carriers, data centers, service providers and connectivity requirements. A lack of interoperability between services and poor communication among stakeholders can make undoing these knots an expensive and resource-intensive slog. It induces broadband rage and burns a lot of bandwidth in the process.

Optimizing connectivity needs to be a foremost concern in today's business model. In theory, it means providing enough bandwidth to create sufficient breathing room for all locations and stakeholders. In practice, an organization needs to centralize its connectivity support. Data Center Knowledge contributor Bill Kleyman recently discussed some fundamental changes in information technology that should compel companies to consider building their business model around their data center network. 

"Business used to establish their practices and then create their IT department. Now big (and smart) businesses are approaching data centers and technology from a completely different angle," Kleyman wrote. "These visionaries see that the future revolves around complete mobility and true device-agnostic connectivity."

Examples Kleyman highlighted included cloud-based data distribution models, which support expanding application development and processing environments. He also observed that new ways of computing, such as virtualization and software-defined networking, place more emphasis on minimizing granular infrastructure management and centralizing IT. Complexity in digital compliance and data governance can also be assuaged by a centralized connectivity platform.

Looking at bandwidth as a business model involves seeing technology as a critical role player rather than simply as a means to get things done. Connectivity infrastructure can and should contribute directly to bottom-line thinking. Paring down the number of service providers to a basic carrier-agnostic data center model can provide more bandwidth integrity and fewer headaches. 

How to choose a colocation provider

Colocation is an advantageous infrastructure model for any company concerned about supporting its data storage needs. Among the variety of data center, server placement and management options available, it's the one that directly marries an organization's desire to maintain control over its equipment with its need for better network and security support.

In a colocation environment, an organization leases data center space for servers it owns. The data center provider offers server racks, power, bandwidth and physical security. The organization retains control over server management, unless it chooses to outsource these needs to the provider as well. 

Simple, right? Because the colocation business is booming, it attracts a lot of upstart providers. Not all of them offer the same level of service. That's just the reality of the situation. Additionally, one provider's solutions may be right for one organization and match up poorly with another's needs. Misfiring on this selection can be a costly decision, not only in wasted capital expenses but potentially down the road if business continuity is affected, according to ComputerWeekly. 

Determining the most pressing concerns is a company's first step. For example, a company with its central location in an area more susceptible to natural disasters should look for a colocation facility in a safer area. Connectivity is another issue. While every business wants to stay online, some may be able to afford less than 99.999 percent uptime ("five-nines uptime") in exchange for a more cost-effective colocation plan. A financial services firm or federal entity may need to pay a premium to ensure servers are always available. It's simply a matter of weighing financial costs with the price of availability.

Security is a near-universal concern, while many organizations may be dealing with increased complications related to industry compliance, according to Data Center Knowledge contributor Bill Kleyman. A company needs to make sure its colocation provider is certified for adherence to compliance standards. A variety of physical and facility safeguards can provide additional protection, which may be the way to go if a company's colocation center is in a more populated area.