Data safety is a core business concern these days, even for small to midsize businesses (SMBs). But being prepared to ensure that your business operates even during potentially catastrophic disasters requires more than simply implementing business cloud backup. While such services are certainly part of a healthy disaster recovery (DR) plan, there’s a lot more to be considered before you can call your organization safe, especially from an IT standpoint. A “disaster” refers to a complete halt of most or all of your systems simultaneously. If someone asks what your organization would do if all of its systems went dark one day, and you can’t answer that question with confidence, then you’re setting yourself up for serious problems down the road—and that’s “when,” not “if” because disaster hits everyone sooner or later. Fortunately, the cloud and the internet combine to make recovering from system disasters easier than ever.
Many SMBs dismiss planning a coherent DR policy because they believe such strategies are only for deep-pocket, enterprise-scale IT budgets. What can an SMB do? In the past, SMB-style preparation usually meant doing frequent backups and storing backup tapes offsite. Effective and cheap. Enterprise DR followed the same rules, but added provisioning for a hot-site, meaning another office that could be provisioned to house data center infrastructure and workers on short notice, or at the very least, have spare “dark” hardware and infrastructure capacity on hand to quickly replace failed systems. These measure do ensure some level of disaster-proofing, but they’re both slow by today’s standards and exceedingly expensive, which is why many SMBs opt to ignore DR planning entirely.
Fortunately, today’s options are not only more effective, they’re also cheap enough to be affordable for businesses of any size. That’s due to two important IT enhancements: software-based infrastructure and the cloud. Virtualization allows businesses to provision servers as software instances on top of disparate hardware. So, for example, SMB X may have a single physical server in a data closet somewhere, but using Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware ESXi (among other virtualization platforms), they could be running two, three, or more software servers on that hardware with each software instance looking and behaving like any other server as far as the network and users are concerned. By implementing servers as software-based instances, IT managers get the ability to back those servers up by using the same methods they would for data.