With Hurricane Florence heading towards the Carolinas here in the US and dominating a lot of the news, it puts many things into the limelight – not the least of which is this question: is your business ready if such an event happened in your area?
Every part of the world has challenges with Mother Nature in some way. Here in the Northeastern US, we generally only see Nor’easters which can knock out power, the West Coast certainly gets earthquakes and there is a potential tsunami threat in places, and so on. You get the idea. There is only so much you can do in a physical data center to counteract all of this. Man made events, including hacking, also falls under this disaster recovery category, but there are defenses you can generally account for in most (but not all) scenarios. You cannot stop a hurricane coming at 140 miles per hour; you can have redundant links to prevent a network outage if your telco cuts a trunk.
The reality is you can never protect against every single scenario planned or unplanned, but you can do your best to ensure that once the event is gone, people are able to get into work, and life starts to get back to relative normal, you have a business to come back to. The famous shots in newscasts and in pictures of people boarding up houses and businesses is one way to do this; the goal is to minimize physical damage. But do you:
- Have a plan to properly shut down your systems and bring them back up?
- Have a way to restore or rebuild your physical systems/servers in the event they are destroyed?
If the answer to both of these is not a resounding “Yes!”, that’s a problem. For over 20 years I’ve been in the availability business. I’ve helped customers of all sizes from small shops to large enterprise companies. FCIs, AGs, log shipping, etc. – all are great features. But when floods take out your data center, what do you have? For the most part, dead servers which most likely need to be replaced (and possibly the data center, too). You need to start with backups and/or the software to rebuild those systems.
The good news is that with the rise of the public cloud (Amazon’s various offerings, Microsoft’s Azure, GCP), disaster recovery is not completely impossible. Even just storing backups in “cold” storage up in the cloud makes them available in a way that was not an option not too long ago. Most companies, such as Microsoft, can get you the software you’re licensed to use via websites and no longer are you relying on DVDs. Heck, you can build systems up in the public cloud with IaaS VMs that extend your on premises solutions that you can flip to in the event of your main data center not being online.
In a worst case scenario, assuming your SQL Server databases are not hundreds of terabytes or petabytes, back that stuff up to an external disk and take it with you. Of course, you should protect it properly (i.e. encrypted backups, password protected, etc.) since you do not want sensitive data falling into the wrong hands, but for heaven’s sake DO SOMETHING!
Do all of these things have costs, especially cloud-based solutions? You bet! In no way am I claiming is any of this free, but what is the cost associated with bringing you business back online? What is the cost if it cannot come back online? The cost of “cold” storage in the cloud is much less than never coming back.
If you’re in the path of Florence, I truly hope you are safe and that its effects are not devastating. If you want to ensure your business is resilient, it’s not too late to start thinking about how to protect yourself in a worst case scenario. Contact us today to devise the right disaster recovery strategy for business continuity. We can help you minimize and possibly eliminiate your downtime.