Disaster Recovery: Never a Priority Until It’s Too Late

Posted by George Sturgis on July 1, 2015

Disaster recovery is rarely the top IT priority for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). In fact, for many of these companies it’s not even on the list at all. This is a grave mistake, because the consequences of a significant data loss are serious – so serious, in fact, that 60 percent of SMBs that suffer such a loss go out of business within six months.

When a data center goes down even for a short time, the costs are enormous. Here’s the math according to a recent Ponemon study. The average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute. The average outage lasts 90 minutes. That adds up to a cost of over half a million dollars. According to one estimate, the cost of retyping 20 megabytes of sales data is $17,000, while the same amount of accounting data costs $19,000.

With so much at stake, why do so many companies pay so little attention to this problem? The first reason could well be the name that’s been attached to the problem, disaster recovery. Although disasters in the form of floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and so on do occur, they are relatively rare. Many smaller companies are willing to take the risk that “it won’t happen to us.” Unfortunately, natural disasters are not the only potential source of data loss.

Cybercrime is another growing risk. Many senior managers in SMBs don’t realize that cybercrime is now a global industry composed of large, well-funded organizations. Furthermore, these organizations are well aware that SMBs often have poor defenses against attack because they think of themselves as unlikely targets in comparison to giant multi-nationals. In fact, SMBs are favored targets.

On a less melodramatic note, incidents that aren’t full-blown disasters can also cause business problems. The fact is, data gets corrupted all the time, and companies need a simple, cost-effective means of recovering from these small but problematic events.

The net of all this is that SMBs need a disaster recovery capability now more than ever. Furthermore, because budgets are always tight, this capability must be cost-effective. Fortunately, there are best practices and tools that can minimize costs.

Key Recovery Metrics

For those who aren’t familiar with the details of disaster recovery, two of the most important metrics that influence cost are recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). RTO simply means how long will it take us to get up and running after an incident. RPO is slightly less straightforward. It refers to the point in time after which data is permanently lost. For example, if the RPO is two hours, that means data has to be backed up every two hours, so no more than two hours worth will ever be lost.

As might be expected, low RTOs and RPOs cost more. The technology exists to provide RTOs and RPOs below one second, but these solutions are much more expensive than those whose RTOs and RPOs are measured in hours.

A Business-Based Approach to Data Recovery

The important point here is that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all disaster recovery, and not all data deservers equal protecytion. The cost of the disaster recovery solution should always match the business value of the data, and this value can often be quantified. For example, if an e-commerce site depends on inventory data to serve customers and make sales, the value of that data can be measured in terms of lost sales-per-hour. For an engineering or consulting company, the value of the data in any system required for employees to do their work can be related to lost productivity (burdened hourly rate times total lost hours). These calculations will never be ultra-precise, but at minimum they can help prioritize the business value of data.

The Value of a Trusted Partner

When it comes to technical storage issues, SMBs need to engage a knowledgeable partner who can offer various options for off-site storage and recovery, explain the trade-offs between them, and ensure that the chosen solution works properly. With its growing portfolio of financial grade data centers and commitment to personal service,  ByteGrid is an ideal partner for SMBs who want to avoid the severe consequences of data loss.