Jan 19 2022
Data Center

For Agencies, the Cost to Prepare for Data Loss Is Less Than the Cost to Recover

Government IT leaders need disaster recovery plans that not only save them money in the long run but also give them confidence for when disaster inevitably strikes.

Human error, natural disasters, cybercrime and system outages could cost government agencies billions of dollars in data loss. At the rate of $141 per record lost, a government entity with millions of unique data records — but no disaster recovery plan — could potentially lose over $7 billion if hit with an unexpected cyber event.

Not only is the cost of a disaster recovery plan and Disaster Recovery as a Service significantly less than the cost of lost data, but it also improves productivity and efficiency.

While organizations have been driven to improve their disaster recovery capabilities due to the cost of downtime alone, there are many organizations that are not totally prepared to recover their data in the event of a disaster.

All of these harmful effects are elevated for government. Lost data can prohibit mission success and prevent federal employees from completing duties needed to keep government running. Agencies can’t afford to lose data due to employees’ lack of access to everything from files to emails.

Agencies need disaster recovery plans that save them money in the long run and allow them to be confident when — not if — a disaster strikes. Having a comprehensive DR plan in place and following best practices for data protection and backup can help agencies to minimize downtime and reduce the costly impact of data loss.

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Best Practices for Disaster Recovery Plans

Before developing or revising a disaster recovery plan, agencies must first establish a baseline, which includes a review and analysis of an organization’s entire IT infrastructure. The DR plan should include a comprehensive list of assets — including hardware, software, devices and applications — and details such as capture version history, system location, and backup and data protection.

Protecting data is crucial. Agencies should apply the 3-2-1-1-0 rule to their data backup practices, which instructs organizations to maintain at least three copies of data on at least two different types of storage media, with one copy at an offsite location, one copy stored offline and all recoverability solutions with zero errors. Data protection solutions that support an agency’s entire data storage environment can ensure this process is followed.

With these details mapped out, DR plans need to outline clear, tactical steps to be followed, as well as roles and responsibilities, in the event of a disaster. Ensuring that all employees know their roles will help the recovery process move smoothly and quickly. The DR plan should also include a crisis communication plan for internal and external communications.

Once the basics of the DR plan are established, repetitive tasks can be automated, allowing employees to focus on more complex, supervisory tasks. As always, compliance is crucial: Automated systems can quickly demonstrate the health and compliance of DR plans to executives and regulators, limiting stress. 

Because technologies, team members and even the nature of disasters themselves constantly change, a successful DR plan must be tested regularly. Agencies should be running full-scale tests routinely for different types of disaster, such as hurricanes, cyberattacks and even the accidental deletion of data.

Creating a DR plan can be daunting, but having one in place can save a significant amount of money, maintain citizen services at particularly trying times and enable agencies to fully meet their mission. As both technology and disasters become more sophisticated and disruptive, having the right plan and solutions in place will keep systems running.

RELATED: Why disaster recovery via hybrid cloud appeals to local agencies.

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