Microsoft Azure: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity at its Finest

Natural disasters can wreak havoc on an economy. According to CNBC, 40% of businesses that suffer a “disaster” never open their doors again, while 25% close their doors within a year. While these statistics sound grim, there’s a solution in sight.

Studies show that 96% of companies with a disaster recovery plan have a greater likelihood of survival. Meanwhile, 93% of those without one generally fail. Almost every business without a plan shutters after disastrous incidents like network failures, ransomware attacks, or data breaches. Yet, those with a plan-in-place usually survive and are able to navigate the tides of post-disaster recovery confidently.

So, how do you plan ahead? What steps should you take to ensure business continuity when disaster strikes?

The “Uh-Oh” Moment

Ah! Another day of work. You have that big project to tackle, and you’ve promised your coworkers you’ll join them for a burrito lunch. You pour a fresh cup of coffee, head to your desk, sit down, power up your computer, and then discover that you have no Internet connection.

Your coworkers are in the same boat. The entire office sits by idly waiting for a fix. Projects are delayed, emails gather dust, productivity is non-existent, and everyone is bored. Welcome to the world of IT disasters. An IT disaster is any situation that results in IT downtime and lost productivity.

And, downtime costs money. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. When those minutes morph into hours or days, you have a serious problem on your hand. Unfortunately, there are a variety of scenarios that can cripple your IT infrastructure. In general, these are the four types of IT disasters.

1. Cybersecurity

Hackers attack a business every 39 seconds. For small businesses (which represent 43% of cyber threats), the cost of a data breach is around $50,000. For larger businesses, the average cost is over $3 million. Either way, cyber breaches directly impact your bottom line, and the sheer costs of a breach can cripple big and small businesses with ease.

But, it isn’t decreased productivity or the resulting customer churn that makes up the bulk of those costs — it’s downtime. Dealing with a threat grinds your workflows to a halt. Here’s where things get serious: the average lifecycle of a cybersecurity breach is a whopping 316 DAYS.

In a nutshell, cybersecurity issues can send your operations barreling towards a brick wall of failure, increased costs, and operational challenges.

2. Hardware Failure

The ever-intricate web of semiconductors, chips, wires, cards, and hard drives that make up the modern IT ecosystem is fragile. Laptops and desktops have an average fail rate of ~5% per year, and roughly 2% of hard drives fail every year. Essentially, hardware failures occur often and regularly in the IT landscape. Again, these failures take time to fix, and that downtime can cause chaos for you, your employees, and your wallet.

3. Software Failure

Physical hardware isn’t your only fail point. Software crashes happen all the time. Studies show that 95% of businesses have admitted to suffering an outage over the past three years, and software is a common culprit. In fact, we’re guessing that you’ve experienced a software outage AT LEAST once over the past year. Unfortunately, those software breaches are frustrating, debilitating, and costly.

4. Natural Disaster

This is the least common — yet most devastating — form of IT disaster. Thousands of businesses must deal with fires each year. Meanwhile, others must contend with floods, wind damage, or electrical disasters that directly impact their on-site hardware. Unfortunately, businesses often make few preparations for this type of disaster. It’s easy to think, “It’ll never happen to me.” But, that’s not true.

And, due to the COVID-19 crisis, businesses will see lower insurance payouts for business-interruption claims after a disaster. Thus, a disaster recovery plan is critical to business continuity.

Dealing With A Disaster

Obviously, you know that disasters can negatively impact your business. And, you’re aware that avoiding them isn’t always possible. So, the game plan is to create a disaster recovery framework. That’s simpler than it sounds. The truth is: most businesses have a disaster recovery plan. That doesn’t mean it’s viable. The average business continuity plan mitigates 17% of the damage stemming from a disaster. That’s not an ideal scenario.

Most disaster recovery plans fail to address challenges in a comprehensive way. And, creating a continuity framework is a time-consuming, expensive, and tech-laden process. The threat landscape is always evolving, and the potpourri of legacy systems, SaaS apps, and data lakes can create a technical nightmare.

When you add the complexity of hiring, training, and maintaining a crew of disaster mitigation experts, disaster recovery can seem an impossibility. But, it doesn’t have to be. There are many solutions on the market that can help you tackle disaster recovery seamlessly and efficiently. We want to focus on one: Microsoft Azure. Hundreds of thousands of businesses are already plugged into Azure, and — believe it or not — Azure has built-in disaster recovery solutions that can protect your business after a disaster hits.

How Azure Helps You Tackle Disaster

Azure — Microsoft’s insanely popular, powerful, and agile cloud platform — helps businesses build, test, and deploy rockstar-status apps and SaaS solutions. In fact, 95% (that’s not a typo) of Fortune 500 companies leverage Azure as part of their standard app workflows. But, behind that uber-powerful engine lies a very real disaster recovery tool.

Microsoft Azure lets you create a world-scale business continuity plan with a fair dose of hyper-speed. In a nutshell, Azure lets you back up your SaaS apps, legacy servers, and on-premise solutions to the cloud. Then, when disaster strikes, Azure lets you rapidly recover data and resume operations. There are three core services that facilitate this disaster recovery potential.

  1. Azure Backup: With Azure Backup, you can one-click backup your entire virtual IT infrastructure. From Azure Virtual Machines and SQL workloads to SAP HANA workloads and on-premises VMware machines, Azure Backup safeguards everything. Plus, it automatically scales to fit your needs. This is a one-and-done backup for these systems, and it backs up across multiple environments. We always explain Azure Backup like this: imagine investing in $1 billion worth of cybersecurity, building a world-scale backup server, and hiring 3,500 security experts. That would obviously cost a pretty penny. With Azure Backup, you get access to ALL of that for one monthly fee. It’s an incredible value.
  2. Azure Site Recovery: This handles the hardware side of a disaster. Azure Site Recovery backs up data and enables near-instant recoveries. But, it also pushes your workload to another Azure region in case of failures. So, let’s say that your systems crash AND your Azure server crashes (which would be relatively unheard of), Azure handles this by restoring your data and pushing you to a new region. You don’t lose time, money, or productivity. Instead, Azure seamlessly resumes operations in another distinct cloud server.
  3. Azure Archive Storage: Let’s cut to the chase: what about the data lakes? It’s all fun-and-games until you see the bill for backing up terabytes of unstructured data. You still need that data for BI. But, you definitely don’t want to pay exorbitant costs for backing up both structured and unstructured data. Azure has an answer for this, as well. Azure Archive Storage lets you store terabytes of data for a few bucks a month, and it automatically backs that data up. It’s a win-win scenario. Imagine not having to deal with expensive storage arrays and the usual backup/retention problems. Azure Archive Storage lets you set policies and focus on more business-critical objectives.

Obviously, Azure also handles the cybersecurity issue with ease. Azure comes packed with enterprise-grade security features that outpace industry standards and create world-beating security postures.

In short, Azure, by itself, is a well-built business continuity solution. Of course, most of us use Azure to build, deploy, and manage applications, and the value of Azure goes well beyond simple disaster recovery. But, behind the curtains, Azure is an incredibly affordable, scalable, secure, and flexible disaster recovery solution that keeps your workflows flowing — despite on-premise IT outages.

Are You Ready to Build a Best-in-Class Business Continuity Plan?

We can help. Nexinite’s team of Microsoft pros can help you with licenses and migrations to Azure. Are you ready to implement an effective disaster recovery plan for your business? Remember that 93% of businesses without a disaster recovery plan will close their doors after a single disaster. Reduce your liabilities and protect your business. Upgrade today!

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