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Disaster recovery strategies for organizations on a budget

Budgets tight? Our roundup of disaster recovery strategies includes cost-cutting tips, lists of affordable DR plans (some options as low as $100) and DR best practices.

Disaster recovery (DR) doesn't always get the attention it deserves at midmarket companies -- it can be expensive, time-consuming and resource-intensive. But studies say that between 80% and 93% of smaller businesses won't survive beyond the first two years after a catastrophic data loss, proving the necessity of a well-laid disaster recovery plan.

Don't get caught off guard. New technologies and managed services options have helped make DR affordable on any budget. Learn how to stay protected without spending a fortune in this roundup of disaster recovery strategies and best practices.

Table of contents

  What should a DR plan include? Table of Contents

About half of all small and medium-sized businesses have a disaster recovery strategy or business continuity (BC) plan, but when the time comes to put such plans into action, organizations realize they are missing some key components.

A complete, well-tested plan can make it easier to get back to business as soon as possible. Make sure disaster recovery strategies avoid critical data loss and miscommunications, and that they include elements such as:

  • Authentication and validation tools.
  • Personnel contacts, info and methods.
  • A priority order for resource recovery.

   Get the full list in "What you need in a disaster recovery (DR) plan."

  Are you overspending your DR budget? Table of Contents

Most organizations recognize the importance of a disaster recovery plan -- in the event of a system failure or disaster, it will ensure high availability and quick recovery of mission-critical applications. But a number of IT organizations still have not been able to properly balance technology costs with the needs of the organization. They apply what they feel are the proper levels of protection, when in fact they may be overspending.

Why? When organizations determine service-level requirements, recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives, they often make the mistake of trying to keep the business running as if nothing happened. This can result in plans and services meeting the needs of one or two critical applications but being overkill for all others.

And while this can prevent employee inconvenience and related workflow disruptions, working to avoid these short-term losses is often not worth the extra expense.

   Are you overspending? Read "Are you wasting disaster recovery budget to avoid employee inconvenience?" to learn more.

  What are your options for outsourced DR? Table of Contents

In the past, midmarket organizations either had to wait 48 to 72 hours to recover data from tapes or pay for more expensive, more advanced solutions offering faster recovery times, such as disk-based replication. Now, Storage as a Service and other disaster recovery/business continuity services are filling the gap with affordable, on-demand solutions. These online services automate functions that traditionally required investment in infrastructure and time. Options include:

  • Backup as a Service: Backs up your servers over the Internet to the vendor site.
  • Storage as a Service (also referred to as disk-to-cloud): Sends a copy of your data to the vendor electronically, versus physically transporting tapes.
  • Replication as a Service (virtual recovery): Replicates your data and system information to vendor sites and recovers your data on virtual machines.
  • Application Continuity as a Service: Recovers business applications.

   To learn more about these four subscription-based disaster recovery services, read "New offerings that may cut the cost of your IT disaster recovery plan."

  What are options for businesses on a budget? Table of Contents

What kinds of affordable disaster recovery services are available for smaller midsized organizations? From options starting at $100 a month to those in the low $1,000's, there are plans to fit any midmarket budget.

SunGard Availability Services LP's managed disaster services start at $100 a month for basic recovery services. Customers back up their data however they like and then restore the data themselves on SunGard's hardware in the event of a system failure. Restoration takes 48 hours or longer.

For $500 a month, SunGard offers infrastructure management (out-tasking production functions to SunGard rather than keeping them internal) which includes space, power and no minimum rack commitments.

   For more information on the various pricing tiers and providers, read "Disaster recovery services options for smaller businesses on a budget."

   How can you get funding for IT BC? Table of Contents

Securing funds to establish and maintain a business continuity plan is a top challenge for midmarket IT managers. To get around this financial hurdle, one strategy is to use the savings from your organization's DR preparations to help BC pay for itself.

For example, consolidating servers into a fault-tolerant configuration can reduce your overall risk and operational overhead. And performing a technical refresh can usually eliminate maintenance costs for up to three years.

   For more tips on saving money and making room for business continuity in your existing budget, read "How disaster recovery savings can pay for business continuity planning."

Do you have other questions about disaster recovery strategies? Email Kristen Caretta, Site Editor, or follow her on Twitter @kcaretta.

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