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Fear of Disaster: 5 Tips to Help Enterprises Cope

IT disasters can strike anywhere, anytime. In 1983, a faulty Soviet warning system nearly precipitated World War III—the system claimed five missiles were en route from the U.S. Only quick thinking by Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov saved the day when he realized the United States would never launch so few warheads. And in 2004, a private contractor working with the British Child Support Agency (CSA) suffered a glitch that overpaid 1.9 million people and underpaid 700,000. When the dust settled, the taxpayers were out more than a billion pounds.

It’s no wonder, then, that enterprises have a healthy fear of IT disasters—especially since no system is ever truly foolproof. Still, it’s possible to significantly reduce the impact of a company-wide disaster by implementing some or all of these five tips.

Plan, Plan, Plan

A recent Forbes article talks about the similarities between disaster management and motherhood. Both require round-the-clock availability, preparedness and an immediate response to any concerns. What’s more, effective management builds in room for growth—what happens when your server room doubles in size or you move to a new, larger office? Starting from scratch is never a good idea.

As a result, planning is key. Not generalized planning, but specific scenario creation: what will happen if one server fails? If every server fails? If power to the whole city goes out? Thinking about the unlikely and the near-impossible are critical elements of effective disaster management.

Load Balancing

This is an appliance-centered option that focuses on the use of load balancing technology to ensure high server availability. Continuous load balancing intelligently distributes resources across a network but can also take over in the event of a disaster, shunting workloads to a designated recovery site. While this won’t take the place of complete disaster recovery (DR) tools, load balancing can help lessen the fear of a complete server meltdown.

Consider the Cloud

The cloud as a backup? According to a recent IDG Enterprise brief, there are several benefits that come with a cloud alternative. First is the ability to easily create disaster recovery plans for remote offices, while avoiding the need to build a second, backup data center. What’s more, the nature of on-demand cloud resources means you get exactly what you pay for and exactly what you need.

Concerns? Some enterprises worry about the safety of their data in the cloud—in that case, consider a hybrid alternative that uses some cloud backup and some local stacks to provide total coverage.

Seek out a Service

Another option to help limit the fear of enterprise IT disaster is the use of disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS). These solutions may be physical servers, virtual instances, cloud-based storage or some combination of all three. While pure cloud plays often focus on business continuity, DRaaS has one mandate: get a company back from zero to full-throttle as soon as possible.

Tape Yourself

One option many enterprises have started to disregard out of hand are tape backups. As a recent Tech Target piece notes, disk to disk to cloud (D2D2C) solutions offer the benefit of agility and scalability, but aren’t always a suitable replacement for disk to disk to tape (D2D2T) solutions. Why? Because cloud providers may not be able to guarantee data storage for 10, 15 or even 20 years. Tape (and flash storage), meanwhile, are often more cost-effective options with longer lifespans.

Want to give up your fear of disaster and get ready for whatever comes your way? Take time to fully flesh out a disaster management plan, and then consider one of more technologies to help safeguard data. Load balancing, cloud solutions, DRaaS and magnetic tape all offer unique benefits to help quell your fear of failure.

By Steve Lyerly, Vice President of Business Development at Velocity Technology Solutions

Velocity provides enterprise and business application hosting services which are fully-managed and protected within a virtual private cloud.

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