The United States was dealt some billion-dollar blows in 2012, what with tornadoes, hurricanes, and, of course, Superstorm Sandy. Businesses, including credit unions and other financial institutions, were not exempt from the fallout. And for those with no disaster recovery plan in place, the downtime was particularly devastating: Aberdeen Group estimates that just an hour of downtime can translate to $74,000 lost for some small to mid-sized business.
Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20, but given these consistent reminders to expect the unexpected, foresight can be 20/20 too. With a no-fail disaster recovery plan and some regular testing of a proven solution, credit unions can weather any disaster and protect their all-important data, applications and systems from certain destruction.
Prepare Your Team
Credit union employees play a big part in any successful disaster recovery plan, so make sure your team is organized and ready when disaster strikes. First, determine how you will communicate with staff. Reroute phone calls or set up a special number that staff can call for updates after a disaster. Next, run through scenarios and outline priorities for day one, day two and so on. These drills will help your team focus in a chaotic situation.
Choose Your Solution Wisely
While ensuring some type of disaster recovery solution is in place is of paramount importance, exactly which one a credit union chooses is often just as critical, as not all solutions deliver the instant recovery required to avoid costly downtime.
For example, while standalone tape and disk backup are historically popular choices, their expense and complexity, not to mention their failure to restore data, applications and systems in a timely fashion (they can take hours or even days), make them less-than-ideal choices for credit unions and financial institutions.
For those who want to move away from tape or disk, the cloud emerges as yet another choice for disaster recovery. But when used alone, cloud backup can actually make recovery times worse for small to mid-sized businesses with limited Internet bandwidth. In reality, large restores from cloud backup require shipping of physical media, which defeats the purpose of moving from offsite tape to cloud anyhow.
Because of the inability to get staff working again in minutes rather than days, these solutions are increasingly losing ground to cost-effective and easy-to-use and -deploy hybrid cloud solutions, which, in contrast, deliver instant recovery of data, applications and systems by blending on-site with cloud-based recovery.
Test Regularly and Often
Testing your chosen disaster recovery solution is another critical element in a credit union's overall disaster recovery plan. Unfortunately, it typically falls by the wayside. In fact, a Symantec survey found that only about 28% of small to mid-sized businesses in any industry regularly test their solution. This is likely because testing is notoriously time-intensive and cumbersome, taking as long as 48 hours in some cases.
But here again, all solutions are not created equal. Tape and disk backup solutions have limited to no testing capabilities, while hybrid cloud disaster recovery simplifies and streamlines the process through automatic and on-demand testing.
2013 presents another year of unexpected disasters, whether a freak storm or facilities fire. But with the proper disaster recovery plan in place — which involves people, processes and technology — destruction and downtime will be limited, and credit unions can move forward with serving their customers and maintaining business as usual.