Ensuring System Resilience: 6 Keys to Cloud Disaster Recovery Testing

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Companies have rushed to move their operations into the cloud in the past decade. Now, roughly 60% of corporate data is in the cloud. While the cloud can empower companies and promote collaboration, it’s also a potential risk factor. Just like data held on company servers on site, cloud data needs to be regularly backed up and protected to respond in the event of a disaster. IT consulting services can help you craft a disaster response plan and ensure resilience. However, even the best disaster recovery plan needs to be put to the test. Consider a few keys to effective cloud disaster recovery testing that are critical to ensuring a stable, reliable system even in the worst circumstances.

However, even the best disaster recovery plan needs to be put to the test. Consider a few keys to effective cloud disaster recovery testing that are critical to ensuring a stable, reliable system even in the worst circumstances.

6 Keys to Cloud Disaster Recovery Testing and Ensuring System Resilience

1. Automate Cloud Data Backups

Needless to say, if you don’t have regular backups, then you’re in serious trouble when disaster strikes. Whether it’s a natural disaster, an associate error, or a cyberattack, you need backups at the ready. However, your backup process should not be handled manually. Remove the possibility of human error and automate your cloud backups. Your cloud services provider can allocate additional storage for backups, and you can set rules for how often to back up your data. Besides your data, you should also back up any virtual machine images and applications that you regularly use. A disaster could bring down more than your data. Backing up your applications and their environments allows you to quickly redeploy in the event of a failure. How often should you back up your cloud system? The answer to that question depends on your recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO).

2. Have Clear Objectives

Without clear objectives, you can’t have a solid recovery plan. The two most important objectives to define are your RPO and RTO. Your RPO defines how far back you’re willing to go when you recover from a disaster. A one-week RPO means that you would do a backup every week, resulting in a maximum of one week’s work lost in the event of a disaster. Ideally, your RPO should be as short as possible to avoid data loss. It’s possible to configure cloud storage to back up data as you create it, resulting in RPOs measured in minutes or hours. Your RTO, on the other hand, represents how long it should take you to recover from a disaster. The shorter your RTO, the faster you get back into action. You will need to test your recovery path to determine how realistic your RTO is. A 15-minute RTO on paper is meaningless without testing

to verify its feasibility.

3. Keep Your Recovery Paths to a Minimum

It may be tempting to create several recovery paths for additional resilience. However, with each additional pathway, you get diminishing returns. Plus, you’ll have to test each of these pathways frequently to ensure their viability and the readiness of your associates. The best approach is to have a primary and secondary pathway. The odds of you ever needing more than that are slim, and the additional burden of preparing three levels deep is not worth the investment. Your primary recovery path should be the one that’s most likely to meet your RPO and RTO. A secondary recovery path could have its own set of objectives and would only be used if the primary path runs into a failure of its own. You may want to use a separate service for your secondary pathway to minimize risk. If both pathways are on AWS, for instance, and AWS experiences a system-wide failure, then you’ll be completely out of options.

4. Regularly Test Your Primary Recovery Path

Your primary recovery path must be tested regularly to validate its reliability. If you wait until an emergency occurs, you may find that your backup path was not as capable as you had hoped, which could result in data loss or excess downtime. Besides validating your backups, regular testing ensures that your staff knows the steps and procedures to follow for a quick recovery. When disaster strikes, you want your team to spring into action quickly, without hesitation. How often should you perform tests? We would normally recommend you test your primary pathway at least once per quarter. However, you may want to take your turnover into consideration. A good practice is to perform a test after making new hires in the IT department. This gives new associates the chance to practice the recovery process. Every other test should practice falling back to your secondary pathway so that both recovery methods are given adequate attention.

5. Document Recovery Processes and Train Staff

As you develop recovery plans, you should document them and keep them in an easy-to-remember location. Verify that these documents are kept up to date as you make changes to your recovery plan. Outdated documentation could lead to an even greater problem if the people performing the recovery operation turn to your process documents because they forgot a step. Require associates to regularly refer to documentation while performing tests so that you can spot any errors in a safe setting. Train your team on more than just the recovery process. Those in charge of cloud data recovery should also be able to recognize various types of failures or disasters. Before you can restore a backup, you need to make sure the disaster is over, otherwise you’ll go right back to data restoration. How your associates handle a data breach will be quite different from how they handle a natural disaster.

6. Ask IT Consulting Services for Third-Party Audits

Sometimes the best test is one that someone else performs with you. It’s easy to lose sight of better alternatives when you’ve constantly followed a certain set of procedures. With third-party help, you can put your systems to the test and potentially identify better approaches to data recovery. IT consulting companies can help you perform tests and audit your processes, ultimately improving your RPO and RTO. Contact Edafio Technology Partners to talk to an expert about your cloud data recovery needs. We’ll help you build a more resilient cloud solution that can withstand any disaster.

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