The Real Cost of a Flawed Disaster Recovery Plan


Few would argue against data being the lifeblood of a company. Isn’t it funny how the IT professional (the guardian of said data) is oftentimes the least appreciated person when everything is flowing seamlessly in the datacenter? By that same token, they’re the ones who end up in the hot seat when something goes awry. It’s such a unique profession – do your job well and few people will know you exist; fail, and you’re instantly famous for all the wrong reasons.

So what happens when IT experiences an outage or disaster? What does that mean to the business? First, let me paint a broader picture…

It’s not about backup, it’s about recovery

We call it a disaster recovery plan for a reason. Running backup jobs is easy(ish). Knowing exactly what you’ll do in the event of an outage is what’ll make you an IT hero or zero. Here are a few points of discussion we recommend IT pros have with business leaders:

  1. Which applications are most important to run the business?
  2. What’s the expected SLA for critical applications to be back online?
  3. Whose responsibility is it to restore which systems?
  4. Does the definition of “back online” differ between IT and other business units?

The 5 most common causes of major downtime

Did you know 1 in 3 companies has declared a disaster during the last 5 years? Believe it or not, most of these disasters weren’t caused by fires, hurricanes, or zombies. On the contrary, they’re usually caused by the mundane. Here are the top 5 causes of IT-related disasters (full list is included in the eBook below):

  1. Power Failure
  2. IT Hardware Failure
  3. Network Failure
  4. IT Software Failure
  5. Human Error

That’s right, you’re more likely to trip over a power cord than witness your office building to burn to a crisp (sorry, Milton). If you’ve been fortunate enough to have never experienced a major outage, congrats. However, it’s this sense of confidence that may sometimes require a second look at whether our current IT capabilities match up with the business SLAs and objectives.

Research shows: Many firms are overconfident in their disaster recovery plan

A recent report by Forrester revealed that many firms are overconfident in their ability to recover data in the event of a disaster. IT resources are quickly being eclipsed by the end-users’ desire for constant connectivity and 24x7 availability. Budgets are often times heavily allocated to business units that are working on critical projects and less money is available for IT. Simply put, the unprecedented demand for IT resiliency coupled with a lack of budget has created an environment of sustainability in the datacenter, rather than innovation and growth.

Keep the end users online at all costs. Don’t allow these applications to fail. At some point, the day-to-day mission may become more about protecting your sand castle from the waves rather than building your sand castle further away from the ocean’s reach. “It was working fine” isn’t going to be a good excuse when the proverbial SHTF.

Here’s the problem: As Ben Franklin famously stated, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Yeah, I went there. Seriously though, we need to consider the implications of a disaster recovery plan that does not withstand the pressure test of a legitimate failure.

How much money does downtime cost?

Regardless of industry, most companies rely on their IT infrastructure to record sales. Sales makers cannot sell if their systems are not available. And what about those companies whose sole revenue stream comes from e-commerce? IT resiliency becomes even more important.

One way we can calculate the cost of downtime is by considering the company’s average sales per hour and factoring in the possibility of sales transactions occurring in spite of any given outage. However, that only gives us a rough estimate of lost revenue. The bigger picture demands we also look at the impact to our brand, reputation, customer loyalty, human resources, etc.

For a more comprehensive view of this topic, click the link below to download our e-book "Downtime Costs How Much? Calculating the Business Value of Disaster Recovery".