NFL fans know what a disaster the 4-12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were last year. The Bucs lost ten games in a row – including an embarrassing 45 to 24 beat down by the Atlanta Falcons in the season’s final game. It was a bad enough performance that people were fired.
In the off-season, the team’s owners hired new coaches, drafted new players, and brought in talented free agents. The owners promised Bucs’ fans the team would win. Although the Bucs are not in first place, they are much better and appear on their way to a winning season.
How did the owners of the Bucs recover? What can the revitalized Bucs teach us about IT disaster recovery?
Have a Plan for IT Disaster Recovery
The Bucs are better because they are executing a well-conceived plan to improve. Of course, everyone has binders full of disaster recovery plans. However, a plan on paper is not the same as a tested and reliable plan. Recently Kaseya conducted a survey of 6,500 IT professionals and asked this question: Do you currently have a regularly tested disaster recovery plan? 18% of respondents admitted that they have no regularly tested IT disaster recovery plan. 26% indicated that they had a regularly tested disaster recovery plan only for servers. 24% indicated a regularly tested plan only for critical servers. 16% had a plan for both servers and workstations, and 16% indicated they had a tested plan for the whole business. Most businesses do not have a tested comprehensive IT disaster recovery plan in place.
Consider the Costs of Disaster
In the years that followed the Bucs Super Bowl season, a billboard displayed the number of fans on the waiting list for season tickets. In 2007, the number exceeded 150,000. Not bad for a team with a stadium that seats only 65,000 fans. Now the Bucs regularly fail to sell the 85% of stadium capacity required to have home games televised. A few mediocre and one disastrous season have been very costly for the team’s owners. How much would the loss of a mission critical business system for a few hours cost the company you work for in lost revenue, lost reputation, or lost productivity?
Evaluate the Capacity of Current Assets to Deliver Fast Recovery
The Bucs evaluated their coaches and the players on their roster and decided they needed to make changes. Are the IT disaster recovery systems you have in place to safeguard critical systems adequate to bring them back online quickly? There is a huge difference between having the hardware on hand to replace a failed component and having an image of all the data, settings, partitions, and configurations needed to recover a system in minutes.
Evaluate Capacity of Current Systems to Deliver Comprehensive Restoration
The Bucs have only partly recovered from last year’s disastrous season. They have not returned to their former glory as a team that consistently contended for the playoffs in the previous decade. The difference is somewhat like the difference between system recovery and system restoration. In evaluating your IT disaster recovery programs, consider not only the speed at which you can resume operations, but also how quickly you can do a full restore. When disaster comes, a company with folder-based data backup will take far longer to get systems fully restored than one using image based system backups with ready restore points.
Test and Evaluate Performance of Disaster Recovery Systems
Every NFL team spends hours watching game film and doing drills that simulate game situations. They test extensively so that there are no surprises on game day. The key question about your IT disaster recovery plans is not do you have one, but have you regularly tested it? Will it work as expected? Testing is crucial because a human error, hardware failure, software failure, or natural disaster will eventually test your plan. Allocate the time and resources to make sure that your IT disaster recovery plans are regularly tested.