Protect Your Email from Disaster in Seven Easy Steps

This morning, people in the UK and northern Europe shared an experience that many Americans encounter every year during hurricane season - the sight of extreme storms and weather ripping up trees, damaging property, and disrupting transportation and businesses. From hurricanes, floods and fires to human error, unexpected disaster could take down your network in an instant. Unplanned downtime will cost you in lost productivity, strained customer relationships and lost revenue. Worse: You could lose valuable data for good.

Here are seven easy steps to create a disaster preparedness plan:

  1. Classify your systems. It’s critical to know which systems you can’t live without during a disaster. Both quantitative financial and qualitative impacts need to be measured. Many organizations like to perform a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) to determine the criticality of systems and how fast they need to be recovered, then allocate budget and technology to match the recovery objectives.
  2. Agree on a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) for each system. Once you’ve classified your systems, it’s critical to agree on a RTO that meets the needs of each system for the level of classification you’ve assigned to it. For example: How quickly will the system be working and available after a disaster? We often see communications, CRM, finance, customer-facing and email systems prioritized as Level One, because these are the core business needs that must continue, and efficient communication is critical in the event of a disaster.
  3. Implement disaster preparedness. You’ve classified your systems and agreed to a RTO. The next step is to implement technology and processes that support your goals.
  4. Test your systems on a regular basis. You’ve devised and implemented a great solution, but haven’t given it a production test. Don’t cross your fingers and hope it works as planned during a disaster. Test it in advance!
  5. Fail back. Testing the fail-over capabilities of a continuity solution is only half of the due diligence. What happens if your disaster lasts hours, days or even weeks? And what happens when you try to fail-back to your normal mode of operation?
  6. Test for extremes. Too often, we plan continuity for “normal” disasters, such as power outages and hardware failures. But what happens in the case of a natural disaster like hurricane, flood or fire? Are you confident that you’ll be able to safely activate your continuity systems and meet your RTO objectives? [Tweet "Protect your email in seven easy steps"]
  7. Policy enforcement during an outage. Many companies set up all their compliance rules for their primary systems but not their disaster recovery procedure. Disasters are an opportune moment for things to go wrong.  You cannot ignore the regulatory and policy-based requirements that affect you during an outage. Are you privacy, archiving and compliance policies still being enforced during a disaster?

Why wait for disaster to strike to take action? Get a head start – follow these easy steps to protect your business-critical data today.