Businesses today are spending millions of pounds on disaster recovery infrastructures. Business continuity is essential yet 60% of disaster recovery attempts end in failure. 

There are a number of reasons for this, not limited to the complexity of infrastructures, numerous stakeholders, high change rates and disaster testing costs. 

The situation is compounded by compliance issues including GDPR and businesses have no real way to accurately measure the effectiveness of data recovery plans. 

Important components of any DR (Disaster Recovery) plan are the failover and failback operations.  

Assuming your DR infrastructure is configured correctly and systems are in place to protect your secondary location, failover will be the disruptive component of your DR plan. 

When discussing the disruptiveness of the process, this means the level of data change occurring at the primary location, available bandwidth and how data is mirrored or replicated at the secondary location. 

A key goal is to minimise data transmission whilst simultaneously maximising synchronisation between locations. After carrying out this optimisation, attention should be paid to failover triggering and how to minimise how long the operation takes. 

Defining failover and failback 

Failover is the automated process of transferring data and processes from the primary to secondary location when an attack or fault is suspected.  

It is important to track the original location so once the data is replicated to the secondary location, and the attack or fault is over, it can be re-synchronised and restored to its original position.  

Failback is the second stage of the process when data is restored from the secondary location to the original location.  

It is important to ensure that the only data restored is the data that has been changed during the process. This allows for continuity and safeguards against partial transfer. 

The failover and failback system should be scaled to ensure that it offers continuity for as long as required. To achieve this, sufficient infrastructure and staff resources are needed at the secondary location to deal with the load otherwise the whole process is redundant.  

How critical are failover operations to a business? 

The first question you should ask is which systems need to be protected? There are several issues to consider: 

  • The relative cost of system outages 
  • The cost of protecting those systems 
  • The potential likelihood of a disaster 
  • The potential outage period from a disaster 

By predicting potential outage costs, organisations can make financially driven decisions on which systems to protect. It also demonstrates to Senior Management the need for allocating resources to disaster recovery. 

Backup locations 

A key decision is to determine the secondary backup location.  Ideally, this should be isolated from your primary location to protect your business against disruption from local disasters. It should also be easily accessible in the event of an extended outage. Remote management is an option, but you should ensure that it is fully tested and supports all remote operations with lights-out technology. 

Cloud based DR Solutions 

Cloud-based DR solutions enable organisations to harness more cost-effective resources, whilst offering more flexibility and scalability. However, there can be a reluctance to adopt this technology as it requires a shift in management and moving to server virtualisation can have teething issues. 

As a leading provider of Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service solutions, we can help you explore your DR options.