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Cloud Security: Article

Six Myths About Disaster Recovery

The basics of Disaster Recovery and why customers should be thinking about it

Lately we have seen a lot of articles discussing how easy Disaster Recovery in the cloud is but very few of those put the emphasis on talking about the basics of Disaster Recovery and educating customers on why they should be thinking about it. Mostly such articles concentrate on the technologies that can be uses and how to do Disaster Recovery.

I would like to start with the basics and write about few Myths About Disaster Recovery.

First, let's relate Disaster Recovery to something that is more close to us in real life. The first thing that comes to mind as an analogy is the insurance policies that we pay for our health or our home or our car. Disaster Recovery is almost the same - we invest money in something that we do not need immediately but that pays off when a disaster occurs. Well, I write almost because there is a slight difference. Let's take for example health insurance in a case of severe injury. While the insurance policy will pay your expenses to visit the doctor, the doctor may not always be able to cure you to the state before your injury. On the other side with today's technologies Disaster Recovery can practically recover your systems to the state before the disaster occurs.

And here comes our first mythif I have a business insurance why do I need Disaster Recovery? The answer is simple: business insurance will recover your expenses for your tangible assets (like computers, servers, desks etc.) but it will not recover your intangible assets like business data you have collected over time, customer information that you saved on your servers, depending on your industry you may have research data that you have gathered over years etc. Those assets are more important for sustaining your business than the the tangible assets like hardware.

The second myth is hiding in the actual name - Disaster Recovery. The word Disaster implies that this should be some widespread natural disaster like flooding, earthquake or severe weather or at minimum fire or building collapse. Unfortunately statistics show that such types of "disaster" are only 5% of the "disasters" that strike small to medium businesses (source: Quorum - Disaster Recovery Report Q1 2013). The reality is that 95% of the causes are internal to the organization like hardware, human or software error. Lot of businesses think that disaster is something that will never happen to them the same way lot of people think that they don't need insurance.

The third myth about disaster recovery is that your business will survive even if you don't have Disaster Recovery plan. Statistically only 6% of businesses without Disaster Recovery plan survive on a long term and 43% never re-open after disaster (source: CloudTweaks Disaster Recover Infographic). It is hard to imagine that your business will survive if you lose all your Business Intelligence data, competitive applications or customer data and this is exactly what your Disaster Recovery plan should protect.

The fourth myth about Disaster Recovery is that backing up your data is enough to protect you in case of disaster. Although backing up your data is useful it is not enough to recover the operations of your business. Your data is surrounded with business applications that operate on that data and those need to be recovered too. In addition you need to factor in the financial loses while recovering your operations and estimate for how long you can sustain those losses. Aberdeen Group estimates an average loss of $163,674 per hour of downtime for small to medium businesses (source: Aberdeen Group's Downtime and Data Loss: How Much Can You Afford? Report), and this is an amount that very few businesses of that size can afford.

The fifth myth about Disaster Recovery is that the loss is only financial. Unfortunately the losses from disaster can result in other damages like reputation, legal or regulatory. There is no easy way to quantify those and put dollar amount for them and they are hard to protected with insurance. In some cases such types of damages can have much more negative impact on your business and its future than the financial loss that you will suffer from the disaster.

The sixth and last myth about Disaster Recovery is that you can do it on your own. Even large enterprises with full-time IT staff are struggling to identify all critical applications and data that needs to be protected. Thorough Business Impact Analysis is often overlooked because of different priorities and internal changes and the results are poor Disaster Recovery plans. In addition Disaster Recovery plans are only as good as they are tested and they need to be tested regularly - something that very few IT organizations do. Those challenges are amplified in small and medium businesses that need to rely on external IT staff.

Although the cloud simplifies the way Disaster Recovery is done it does not eliminate the need to educate enterprises about the need of it and the requirement to do a thorough Business Impact Analysis and develop solid Disaster Recovery plan.

More Stories By Toddy Mladenov

Toddy Mladenov has more than 15 years experience in software development and technology consulting at companies like Microsoft, SAP and 3Com. Currently he is a CTO of Agitare Technologies, Inc. - a boutique consulting company that specializes in Cloud Computing and Big Data Solutions. Before Agitare Tech Toddy spent few years with PaaS startup Apprenda and more than six years working on Microsft's cloud computing platform Windows Azure, Windows Client and MSN/Windows Live. During his career at Microsoft he managed different aspects of the software development process for Windows Azure and Windows Services. He also evangelized Microsoft cloud services among open source communities like PHP and Java. In the past he developed enterprise software for German's software giant SAP and several startups in Europe, and managed the technical sales for 3Com in the Balkan region.

With his broad industry experience, international background and end-user point of view Toddy has an unique approach towards technology. He believes that technology should be develop to improve people's lives and is eager to share his knowledge in topics like cloud computing, mobile and web development.

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