Take Time Developing, Testing Disaster Recovery Programs

    Disaster recovery strategies should be center stage in today's unpredictable business world.

    Businesses around the world are placing a greater emphasis on deploying sophisticated disaster recovery projects to ensure they have the ability to quickly restore operations in the wake of an emergency. In many cases, decision-makers are incorporating enterprise VoIP and other communication systems into continuity programs to provide employees with the power to access mission-critical collaborative tools when colleagues, partners and customers need to interact with one another.

    Yet just because a company deploys a recovery program doesn't mean that firm will be safe in the wake of a disaster. In fact, a large portion of recovery endeavors are unsuccessful because they were not planned, implemented or tested properly. This was highlighted in a recent Virtual-Strategy Magazine report, which found that a large portion of the business world has developed insufficient restoration practices. While these problems vary between those companies that simply back up the wrong tools and those that incorporate irrelevant phone system features into the program, failing to address these issues before a disaster hits can lead to significant long-term complications.

    Don't Take the Complex Road

    While many of today's innovative technologies are inherently more sophisticated than their predecessors, this does not mean that firms are obligated to take the route that consists of the most complex solutions available. In many cases, decision-makers can deploy an advanced business phone system, such as VoIP, that is not necessarily difficult to deploy, operate and restore in the wake of an emergency. Unfortunately, many organizations often try to follow Robert Frost's words to the letter and take the road less traveled, resulting in complications that impair performance.

    Virtual-Strategy Magazine noted that labyrinthine disaster recovery programs are far too common in the business world, leading to numerous organizations not having the ability to revitalize operations in a post-emergency setting. Enterprises often incorporate multiple technologies into continuity endeavors, which makes it difficult to bring functionality back into the workplace after unforeseen circumstances.

    The basic takeaway is that disaster recovery in itself is inherently challenging. By adding too many unnecessary variables into the equation, businesses will have more trouble bringing performance back online. Instead, executives should seek a route that suits their specific demands and needs, restoring mission-critical operations before anything else.

    Factor in the Finances

    In addition to including too many complexities, Virtual-Strategy Magazine stated that failing to think about costs will stop a disaster recovery plan in its tracks before companies have the ability to be sure it works. There is no doubt that today's business world is struggling to survive though an unpredictable economy. For this reason, firms should consider embracing the cloud.

    Unlike conventional on-site technologies, a hosted PBX system and other cloud solutions are often managed off-site, allowing enterprises to avoid some of the expenses associated with maintaining a sophisticated data center and virtual network.

    A recent study by AT&T revealed that approximately 66 percent of businesses are embracing the cloud to augment their continuity programs. In general, roughly 76 percent of companies intend to invest more heavily in the cloud in 2013.

    "Companies today are very aware and concerned about the potential threats that could disrupt their operations," said Michael Singer of AT&T. "With their business continuity plans in place, businesses are investing in new technologies like network enabled cloud services to help strengthen and expand their overall continuity strategies."

    Finally, companies need to remember to evaluate their recovery initiatives before putting them in place.

    Test, Test, Test

    While some companies may think they are proactive by implementing a cost-effective and advanced phone system to support a remote workforce in the wake of a disaster, they often forget to test their disaster recovery program. Virtual-Strategy Magazine provided a simple rule of thumb: If decision-makers don't know if their continuity plans work, they don't know if the programs work.

    Enterprises need to test their programs on a regular basis to ensure the strategies function in the way they are intended. This means launching dry runs and educating employees on the best practices associated with working in the aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster. This will be important because some solutions that are useful, but not necessarily mission-critical, will not be available in the immediate wake of an emergency. If individuals do not know how to circumvent traditional practices with temporary operations, they will have trouble getting anything done.

    As the technological landscape evolves in the coming years, it will be increasingly important for enterprise decision-makers to develop, test and launch advanced disaster recovery programs within their organizations to ensure employees will be able to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, partners and customers at all times. By planning ahead and working with a trusted service provider, organizations may be able to customize a plan that suits their specific needs without compromising the budget or basic functionality.

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