Mitigating the Human Cost of a Disaster with a Data Protection Plan

Hurricane Matthew has clearly had a human cost, with hundreds of lives lost and underdeveloped regions bearing the brunt of the casualties. The worst of the carnage was in Haiti where over 1000 people have perished and thousands more have lost their homes and desperately need medical help. Even in the US where authorities have been warning residents from Florida to North Carolina to evacuate for days, at least 33 people have died.

If you wish to contribute to the relief effort, we encourage you to give to a charity in your area.

While first responders are at the front line protecting people, basic infrastructure including transportation and telecommunications networks become all the more critical to their work. As many have learned in this storm, it’s essential to plan for business continuity well before a disaster or you could needlessly put personnel in harm’s way. For organizations with 24/7 operations such as government or utilities, losing access to mission-critical systems for even a brief period of time could add to the human cost of a disaster. Think 911 operations centers, hospitals or municipalities.

If your datacenters are located in a hurricane-prone region, you’ll want your employees to evacuate as soon as possible, not spend time making preparations when it may already be too late. With regular, off-site backup in place, you’ll rest easy knowing your data is protected while your staff can focus on what’s most important, looking after their family’s safety. If you are still relying on a tape backup system, there probably won’t be enough time to move those tapes to a safe location when a hurricane or tornado can affect areas thousands of miles wide.

Equipment can always be replaced, but your most valuable assets — your people and data cannot. It’s a matter of when, not if another deadly storm hits. The frequency of tropical storms are increasing, with potential links to climate change. According to NCAR, the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes have doubled over the last century. With aging infrastructure in many parts of the US and the rest of the world, critical systems such as levees are less able to withstand floodwater than ever.

Your considerations about data protection should extend beyond backup and encompass a full disaster recovery and business continuity plan. It’s a good idea to conduct a full data protection audit to consider appropriate recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) — i.e. how much downtime and data loss each department of your organization could withstand. For the most sensitive organizations, a warm or hot disaster recovery site that’s geographically removed from your location should be considered.

We understand that not every organization has the internal IT capabilities to undertake this kind of audit. Even if you have significant IT resources in-house, chances are they’re tied up with day-to-day operations and projects like replacing aging systems. That’s why more organizations are turning to disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) arrangements where a managed service provider will design and implement a disaster recovery plan on your behalf. You have the choice of storing your backup data in a public, hybrid or private cloud, depending on business requirements and privacy and security concerns.

Speaking with an Asigra Recoverability Specialist can clarify your options and match you with a service provider for your region and industry. For a free consultation, please contact us here

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