Data Recovery Assess Your Downtime Risks

Topics: Cloud Backup

How much would an hour of downtime cost your business? How about 12 hours? Two days? Once you know the potential hour-by-hour costs of a business interruption, you can better justify an ironclad data backup and recovery program.



DID YOU KNOW? According to MarketWatch, the New York Stock Exchange was able to bounce back quickly from Superstorm Sandy because it maintains its own generators onsite, and its primary servers are located 30 miles away in New Jersey. Flooded basement? No problem.

FAST FACT: According to Disaster Avoidance and Disaster Recovery: Making Your Data Center Disaster Resilient, an Aberdeen Group study from June 2010, companies with Best-in-Class disaster recovery plans typically recovered 6.5 times faster than those without good plans, and they suffered up to 40 times less financial loss after an incident.


In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy reminded businesses everywhere—especially those in the Northeast—that anything can happen. And when it does, it can be a truly big mess. Whether it was a Wall Street financial firm with eight feet of brackish water in its basement or a coastal New Jersey real estate agency’s office shoved off its foundation, the issue was the same: We’re down, so how do we get back up—and fast?

Let Sandy be an object lesson in the importance of assessing the risks of downtime to your business and creating a plan to avoid it. Few companies are immune to technology problems spawned by natural or man-made disasters. Downtime can cost you money, maybe even a lot of money. How much do you think that waterlogged Wall Street firm might lose in a day—or even an hour? Hundreds of thousands of dollars? Millions?

Your firm’s losses may not be quite that dramatic, but downtime could put your business at risk. By figuring out how much you could potentially lose, you can build a case for investing in disaster recovery services that should prepare you for downtime dangers. Your company’s executives will likely pay attention as the focus falls squarely on the bottom line.

Your Company’s Assets: Add ’Em All Up

First, step back and think about the components that actually make up your business, the things you’d have to recover or replace after a disaster, and in what order. For example, you’ve got technology systems, stored data, employees and a physical location full of equipment. You need to decide which parts would require immediate recovery or replacement, which are most critical to fast recovery (servers, yes; desks, maybe not), and what each component would cost to protect or replace. After taking stock, you can drill down into the details.

  1. Identify your core operations. Figure out which technologies you’d need to recover immediately to get your business back in the game. This is an exercise in triage, so determine the bare minimum you’d need to operate, and plan to have it all backed up in case of a disaster. For example, if you’re a financial firm, you should have the ability to conduct real-time transactions. What’s the cost to create that backup scenario?
  2. Prioritize your business functions. This is a second exercise in triage. You have critical, vital, sensitive and noncritical systems. What will it take to restore your critical systems, followed by the vital ones? How long can you go without access to each class of application? What will it cost to have instant access to vital business data that you’ve archived offsite?
  3. Classify outage types. Risk management involves figuring out what types of outages you’re most likely to experience, how often they may occur and how long they may last. Your company may have a record of outages that you can plumb for research. What has happened before? How much did each event ultimately cost in lost sales or productivity? If you can, divide the cost by the hours of downtime to zone in on a cost-per-hour figure.
  4. Calculate your true downtime costs. As the hours tick by, downtime costs can increase exponentially. As time passes, the hit to your company’s productivity worsens, and your reputation may begin to suffer, a cost that’s hard to measure but important to recognize.

Help in a Time of Crisis: Set Your Criteria

The best antidote to fear is action, and when it comes to recovering data quickly after a downtime disruption, a trusted disaster recovery support specialist can:

  • Clarify the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in a downtime recovery to ensure accountability across the board
  • Test recovery procedures to ensure a rapid response
  • Assess actual recovery performance against plan objectives
  • Verify that enough recovery resources are in place
  • Identify any gaps in your plan

And when trouble happens, your partner can:

  • Ensure timely recovery of your critical data
  • Help you get your business up and running rapidly
  • Consistently implement best practices for recovery, either at a single location or across multiple locations
  • Adhere to compliance requirements to safeguard your sensitive and regulated data

It shouldn’t take a dramatic fire, blizzard or hurricane to remind you that your business needs a defense from downtime. By assessing the risks and doing the math, you can see why an investment in well-planned disaster recovery makes perfect sense.

Does the Cloud Adequately Address Disaster Recovery?

At first glance it makes perfect sense: Put your business and your backup in the cloud, and it should never be in danger from a natural or man-made disaster. Sure enough, cloud-based disaster recovery as a service has grown into a $450 million industry, according to Network World. But that represents only about 13 percent of the total disaster recovery market. Why is there some hesitation? Consider these reasons:

  1. The cloud poses bandwidth challenges. Businesses with highly transactional apps may find that they underperform during cloud-based disaster recovery because of the sudden and unexpected surge in data traffic.
  2. Large-scale crises can create recovery traffic jams. A cloud provider may be able to help several customers recover simultaneously, but in the case of a regional disaster such as Superstorm Sandy, too many customers may be asking for recovery at the same time, slowing the process.
  3. Can the cloud offer a totally compliant environment? Some data and applications should never be put in the cloud environment because of regulations, compliance and encryption issues.

Iron Mountain Suggests:
Disaster Recovery Support

Iron Mountain’s Disaster Recovery Services can give you confidence in your ability to recover quickly from disasters by working with you ahead of time to plan and test disaster recovery solutions. Iron Mountain’s services include:

  • Analyzing and reviewing your plan. Its team can identify new and emerging threats, consider the potential impact of a range of disaster scenarios on your organization, and recommend changes.
  • Conducting tests on your plan through simulated disaster recovery exercises.
  • Evaluating and refining your plan. The team can assess your test results to uncover gaps and the causes behind any failed steps, clarify roles and responsibilities, and create timelines for recovery activities.
  • Facilitating an actual recovery by setting up transportation and communication systems for data delivery after an event.

Do you have questions about data backup and recovery? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s Data Backup and Recovery team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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