It has been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of disaster recovery, however, businesses tend focus on prevention without anticipating the need for a cure. It may be painful to admit, but disaster in some form is nearly unavoidable, whether due to severe weather, an accident or a data breach. Every good prevention strategy should include a continuity plan for rapid recovery when the inevitable hits.

The problem for many is the idea of “disaster”. The word evokes images of earthquakes, wildfires and malicious hackers, but disaster can occur through something as simple as a user accidently deleting a critical file or a server crashing. No matter the form that disaster takes, you need to be ready to put a cure into action quickly so you can get back to business as usual.

The reason why many businesses still do not have a continuity strategy is often simple. Continuity plans and comprehensive disaster recovery strategies get relegated to the “we know we need this, but just haven’t gotten around to it” space. And as time is always short in the world of IT, this important task gets pushed further down the list until a disaster strikes.

More than just backup

Most businesses are familiar with the idea of data backup, but a proper disaster recovery strategy goes beyond data. Businesses often have data backed up, but don’t consider the systems that rely on that data. What use is data if a disaster renders the IT infrastructure inaccessible?

While data backup is essential, it serves little purpose when all of your applications and systems are out of commission. Disaster recovery is usually a manual process, in which IT teams are on-call and recovery time is dependent upon how quickly they can restore service. A more effective continuity strategy takes the full implications of downtime into account. Downtime means a hit to the bottom line. It means employees getting paid to wait for crucial systems to come back online. It means your customers going elsewhere.

Implemented as part of an effective continuity strategy, modern disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) offers not only machine-level replication and snapshotting, but the ability to easily spin up virtual environments using current data, applications and environmental configurations. It takes into account all of the system states and configurations to ensure a smooth resumption of operations. For most businesses, if systems and data can be running and accessible within the hour, a sufficient continuity strategy is in place.

When will businesses cash in on continuity?

The tipping point to revamping commonplace strategies involves how much time, effort and money it takes to make the move. Historically, this move meant a huge project including expensive consultants, duplicate colocation or data centers, and additional equipment and software. Now, the cloud has enabled DRaaS vendors to introduce solutions that easily connect into primary IT infrastructure without the enormous expense, time and headache. The barrier to entry for implementing robust disaster recovery and business continuity programs has lowered significantly.

As IT leaders’ current behavior ages and there’s an acceleration in adoption of newer technology, many companies will grab onto DRaaS and rejigger their higher order of thinking around IT efficiencies. Additionally, with the growing SaaS market, singular departments within a company can subscribe to services needed and this behavior will make its way into IT departments as they embrace new solutions for their needs.

Planning for disaster

To make your continuity strategy work, understand that disaster happens regardless of how protected you are. Front loading with a data protection solution is only half the game. Go all the way by protecting the entire primary environment – data, applications, and systems – so it can be brought back to life quickly. Minimizing downtime will ensure your business can stay on and you can protect the bottom line.

(This post was originally posted on Helpnet.Security)

tscallan