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A Real-Life Example of Planning for Disaster Recovery

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DaaS solutions prove their worth when the unexpected happens…even for us.

When we talk about disaster recovery and business continuity, we often think about it in terms of a catastrophe—destructive events that directly impact an organization’s physical location and equipment. Not every business interruption is catastrophic, however; in fact, most are short-term problems—power outages, hardware malfunctions, simple human error—that are quickly and easily remedied. Not every interruption is related to the organization’s physical location, either; rather, it is some random, external incident with effects that cascade down the line to suspend business-as-usual. Such interruptions are still costly, nonetheless.

A recent example of such an event occurred in Atlanta, with a massive fire that destroyed an interstate bridge and cut off a heavily-traveled section of highway for weeks. When the initial disaster happened, a 100 ft. section of highway collapsed. Tens of thousands of motorists were stranded, with no way to get to work. Nearly a quarter million vehicles use this section of highway every day, and the immediate disruption to local businesses was staggering. Given the time required to repair the bridge, ongoing traffic issues will continue to make life difficult for area employees, including our own staff in Green Cloud’s Atlanta offices.

Again, for companies taking proactive disaster recovery efforts, this interruption in business continuity as their workers sat idle on a highway had nothing to do with their infrastructure, or their data storage and backup plans. No failover contingency could be employed, and there was no hardware to restore. This was an operational interruption that was completely external and out of anyone’s control. The only element of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that mattered here was an investment in virtual desktops.

A good Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution—such as the one employed by Green Cloud—enables employees to log into company servers from a remote location and access an exact copy of their workstation, including all files, email, and other applications. This meant that motorists stuck in traffic or otherwise unable to get to the office because of the event could still address business issues and continue to get work done using their laptops or other mobile devices. DaaS’ ability to mitigate the effects of such an event, and to quickly restore some level of operations in an emergency is critical to recovery. In addition to allowing remote employees to continue servicing customers, a virtual desktop solution saves companies valuable time in restoring full operations and prevents a major loss of revenue.

In our case, Green Cloud employees used a DaaS solution to continue monitoring our area data center operations, communicate with fellow staff members across the country, and handle customer accounts with no discernible interruption in quality or timeliness of service.

When assessing risks to your company during the disaster recovery planning phase, try not to think about the totality of possibilities. It is impossible to prepare for every event, but it is definitely possible to build a plan that focuses on business functionality instead. If your core business has a set number of operations that must be fulfilled (customer communications, order entry, inventory management, real-time reporting, etc.), make sure your plan addresses those operations, regardless of why they might get interrupted. As we’ve seen in the Atlanta incident, one key to maintaining business continuity is a solid virtual desktop solution.