Just as the world’s eye was about to turn an eye to the FIFA World Cup curtain raiser in Brazil, disaster struck its southern Parana province as flooding ravaged the area, forcing hundreds from their homes. Kerry Evans, managing director, Africa at Quintica looks at the impact flooding can have on your business and what you can do to avoid such damage.

As the rains continued to fall, close to 500 people were evacuated from Curitiba the province’s capital, which is also the base camp for defending champions Spain. While FIFA organisers have said that there will be no impact on the actual events proceedings, natural disasters, such as this can present incredible IT recovery challenges for businesses who are ill-prepared for the power outages, property damages and logistical problems as a result of road closures.

In the past companies relied almost exclusively on storing backups on tape-based storage, while this was securely vaulted offsite, it doesn’t account for the fact that the very facilities storing these backups are not immune to the flooding around them. A serious threat to quicker recovery by flood- or even hurricane-ravaged environments is when actual physical infrastructure is damaged. In cases like this the roadmap to recovery is much longer as communication and power lines and even physical buildings need to get rebuilt.

Brazil’s Parana province was caught off guard, but fortunately the areas where the actual FIFA World Cup games will be hosted, were on higher ground. But it is a lesson to us all. The threat of storms and natural disasters is not something we can diarise you as a business you need to plan ahead.

Protecting your data assets
Step one in developing a disaster recovery solution for your business is establishing a safe site for the protection of your data. Remember tape-based solutions, while still used, are older solutions and with the cloud you have real options. Yes you can still use tape, disk backup, storage replication or server replication—depending on the importance of the data and the required Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) for each. The bottom line is that you select a solution that enables the “quickest” time to recovery.

Recovering your data assets
In the case of a flood, even if you have had the time to “save” your systems, you may not be able to boot them back up in a wet, flood damaged building. So be sure to gauge your risk and whether or not your business can afford any down time. If not then ensure you have another site that has properly configured servers, backup hardware and software, networks and storage – particularly necessary for financial institutions. But always do this before the actual disaster strikes.

You will also need to look at putting in a series of processes and procedures to assist with any potential change management over this time. These must adapt as your business adapts, all too often these are forgotten about until disaster strikes, and then a refresh on the fly isn’t really appropriate or effective for the business. Something else to consider is putting a list of importance together that relates to how “critical” each system or dataset it.

People, process and technology
To summarise always ensure that in any disaster recovery process you don’t just look at each aspect in isolation. It is critical to measure the impact of not having people, process or technology to run your business. While we need people to run your business, we still need somewhere for them to run it as well as the actual technology to run.

As an example if your business doesn’t allow for BYOD (bring your own device) or mobile workers then perhaps now is the time to reconsider this as allowing people to work from home, on a device of their own. Accessing a remote and offsite backup server, could actual be the difference between you salvaging your business in the event of a disaster or going bust.

Forming partnerships
The first step for any business that wants to take its disaster recovery seriously is to partner with a service provider who knows how to keep the samba playing when the lights go out. But elect someone who knows your business or who has the time to get to know how you work and how important each layer of your business is. Disasters don’t send meeting requests, so you need to ensure you are always prepared to deal with what they may throw your way.