If you were among the 108-million football fans who tuned in to this year’s Super Bowl, you know that the lights went out, delaying the game for 34 minutes. Such a glitch was costly, but would have been more so had not those in charge fixed the problem fast with some good disaster recovery planning in place. What managers did right might be helpful to you if you are responsible for responding to mission critical IT system outages.
First, managers of the event had an accurate picture of what failure might cost. Hosting a Super Bowl brings prestige and approximately $439 million in economic impact, according to a recent article in Forbes by columnist Adriana Lopez. For New Orleans, in addition to the money, this year’s Super Bowl was an opportunity to show how well the city had recovered from Hurricane Katrina. Knowing what failure costs is important in IT disaster recovery planning because the cost of failure should be related to the resources invested to avoid it. What would it cost your organization per hour to lose a critical system? How much would downtime cost in lost reputation, revenue, or productivity?
Set a Recovery Time Objective in IT Disaster Recovery Planning
Those who know these answers can intelligently set a Recovery Time Objective (RTO). A Recovery Time Objective is a measure of how soon a system must be restored to avoid a serious consequence. Had the power outage lasted hours, the NFL would not allow New Orleans to host another Super Bowl for a long time. Even the short delay is likely to hurt their chances in bids to host future Super Bowls.
Although I do not have any first-hand knowledge of the Super Bowl disaster recovery planning, I bet that the people in charge had an RTO for a power failure. What they probably did not have is an RPO, Recovery Point Objective, because they were not dealing with an event that posed a data loss risk.
Setting an RPO is crucial in IT disaster recovery planning. An RPO is the maximum period that data can be lost due to a major incident. Could you lose ten seconds, ten minutes, of data or an hour’s worth of system data and still go on? With an estimate of the cost per hour of losing a critical IT system and an idea of both RPO and RTO, IT professionals can tell whether their disaster recovery plans are likely to meet RPO and RTO.
Kaseya System Backup and Restore
If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to revisit your organization’s IT disaster recovery plans, consider your costs of downtime, RTOs and RPOs. If your current tools cannot meet your desired benchmarks, consider Kaseya’s System Backup and Restore. KSBR 1.0 is an OEM integration of StorageCraft’s Shadow Protect into the Kaseya interface and provides image-based backups of full systems—OS, applications, configuration settings, and data—potentially cutting the time to restore a system from hours to minutes.
Despite the precautions planners took, 108-million people watched as the Superdome went dark. Fortunately, the outage was brief because planners had anticipated the contingency and had a disaster recovery plan to fix the issue within the one-beer RTO of most football fans.
How badly do you think the outage will hurt New Orleans’ chances of hosting another Super Bowl? Despite what the NFL is saying publicly, I think it may be a long time before another Super Bowl is played in New Orleans.