How to Formulate a Cloud Disaster Recovery Plan

Disaster recovery is one topic that all companies—from startups to multinational corporations—need to consider. When considering how to tackle this ever-important issue at your own organization, you should consider moving your recovery efforts to the cloud. Though cloud-based disaster recovery is still a fairly new approach to disaster recovery, it has already proven to be an effective choice for many organizations.

To make the most out of cloud-based disaster recovery, however, you will need to formulate a unique recovery plan that will accommodate your needs both on and off the cloud. Read on to explore seven of the steps that you should take when developing your cloud disaster recovery policy.

  1. Assess your risks

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You cannot begin designing your cloud disaster recovery plan until you gain a comprehensive look at your organization’s various assets and their potential risks. The first step in this process should involve the cataloguing of each piece of company infrastructure. While making a list of all your hardware, you will need to take note of where you keep each asset and what value it has. During your review, you will also need to assess the risk posed to your firm’s data and software.

With a proper understanding of the assets that your company owns, you and your team must review the potential disasters that could arise. On-site events such as fires, loss of power, and hard drive failures are only a few such risks. There are, however, a number of outside threats that could affect your organization. You will need to plan for natural disasters as well as regional emergencies such as terrorist attacks and disease pandemics.

  1. Complete your business impact analysis (BIA)

Conducting a BIA will allow you to understand how much revenue you will lose should your organization’s systems go down. In addition, it will help clarify how well your company will be able to operate during a disaster situation. During the first step of your BIA, you should assess your organization’s recovery time objective (RTO). This parameter determines how long your company can run without fully restoring specific data and applications before it will experience difficulties with regular operations.

Your BIA should also cover your company’s recovery point objective (RPO) requirements. This will help you determine the maximum amount of information that your organization can lose between the time of the disaster and the time of recovery. You may find that your RTO and RPO are shorter than you originally anticipated, a fact which could ultimately change your disaster recovery strategy.

  1. Develop sound recovery protocols

Following the completion of both your risk assessment and BIA, you will be ready to develop the disaster recovery plan itself. You should always begin by designing measures that will enable your system to protect itself against potential disasters. For instance, you could implement a control that will alert you if data deletion mechanisms begin infiltrating and wiping your system.

The remainder of your strategy should address your organization’s various RPO and RTO needs. If your organization has a very short RTO, then you will need to develop a disaster recovery that allows you to completely replicate your on-site systems within the cloud. By running simultaneous copies of your digital environments, you can easily restore your systems within a short period of time. For a longer RTO, you can opt for a simpler disaster recovery plan that involves backing up vital information and restoring it through your vendor.

  1. Choose the right provider

In order to properly implement your disaster recovery plan, you will need to choose a cloud vendor that can provide all the services you will need. When vetting potential vendors, you must take numerous factors into consideration. For example, you should look at where each provider keeps its data center and determine how secure this facility is from disasters of its own. Other crucial considerations include speed of disaster recovery services and compliance. If you need more advanced disaster recovery capabilities, then you should look into working with a vendor that specializes in disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS).

  1. Backup your data

cloud computing

With a firm disaster recovery plan in place, you must take the plunge and begin backing up your data to the cloud. After determining which files and applications you wish to move, you will need to make your initial “data dump.” You can do this by either sending data disks to your provider or moving your information directly to the cloud. In order to make this process go as smoothly as possible, you will need to separate each data component and compress it. Compression will also make data recovery much easier because it keeps your files in a more remote, secure location.

  1. Test your plan

Though your cloud disaster recovery plan may seem sufficient, you will not know its various strengths and shortcomings until you test it. After migrating your data to the cloud, you should run a disaster recovery simulation in which you follow your company’s plan. You may not be able to test for every type of disaster scenario, but you can easily run assessments against mock situations such as hackers gaining access to your files or your building losing power.

Between lack of employee preparedness and any hidden issues with your disaster recovery plan, you may encounter many problems with your very first test. However, this experience will enable you to improve upon your plan before launch.

  1. Update your plan

Your company will not remain the same over the years and neither should your disaster recovery plan. As you begin to take on emerging technologies and new applications, you will need to update your solution to fit your organization’s evolving needs. To ensure that you are meeting your disaster recovery requirements, you will need to test your system on a regular basis. At minimum, you should reassess your disaster recovery protocols on a yearly basis. By consistently reviewing your disaster recovery capabilities, you will be better prepared to update your plan over time.