6 critical disaster recovery components

Disaster recovery is becoming a more integral part of enterprise IT strategy every year, as business leaders open their eyes to the massive risks of network interruptions and outages. These realizations have resulted in an explosion of demand for DR support and expertise, with service providers and internal teams seeking to step up and fill these skills and knowledge gaps across sectors.

Despite having come a long way since the inception of this relatively new branch of IT, decision-makers still may be a bit fuzzy on the details of DR, especially with regard to the vocabulary unique to this area. Here are six essential DR components that can help shed some light on the esoteric terminology and ideas that comprise this hugely important aspect of business IT:

1. Recovery point objectives: These measures are the building blocks of any great DR strategy, determining how far back a business wants to travel when restoring its vital applications and data. According to TechTarget, RPOs are crucial to ensuring the precise restoration of key IT elements and avoiding the recovery of irrelevant assets. For example, an RPO of 24 hours will replicate files on a daily basis to minimize the loss of recently created data in the event of an interruption.

2. Recovery time objectives: When systems experience unexpected downtime, IT administrators want to know exactly how long it will take before their assets are back online. This is the role of RTO​s, which goes hand in hand with RPO​s in terms of accuracy and coordination with the rest of the DR blueprint. Without a crystal-clear time horizon off which to plan the remainder of the DR strategy, a company may find itself lost at sea in the midst of a crisis.

3. Virtual machine replication: Virtualization is widely recognized as standard operating procedure in today’s data center environment, separating physical servers from their computing and storage functionality thanks to a layer of software called a hypervisor. With virtual machines readily available to replicate and restore OS settings, applications and workflows, a company can ensure complete control over its recovery agenda and boost its resilience in a worst-case scenario.

4. Source side deduplication: Few things are more bothersome to an IT team than having to deal with redundant files that clog up backup environments and cause sluggish recovery performance. Deduplication ensures that files are backed up and secured in one reliable instance, rather than cloned unnecessarily across many servers and storage units. This process speeds up the entire restoration process and promotes efficiency in the data center at large.

5. App and data prioritization: Even with the help of clear-cut RTO and RPO blueprints, not all applications and data can be restored at once. Decision-makers need to determine which IT assets are most critical to their operations when faced with an interruption, and create a plan that prioritizes their restoration. With the guidance of a third-party service provider, a company can identify crucial assets and assign restoration objectives to particular elements of the infrastructure. These are tough choices to make, but they are key to ensuring thorough and secure recovery.

6. Backup tape archive access: Creating the optimal balance of archival accessibility, security and performance is an essential yet often overlooked aspect of DR strategy. For those not-so-critical apps and information stores, organizations should be able to rely on backup environments to sort and archive all additional files and software. Ideally, these assets will be separate from the main production setting to ensure frontline efficiency, but also made available in a pinch regardless of the scenario.