Simple 5-Step Disaster Recovery Planning Process for SMEs

The start of a new year is a great time to review your IT infrastructure and plan ahead for future business challenges.

Business Continuity

Effective Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning are vital to protect against major outages and other disasters.

How robust are your Disaster Recovery plan and systems?

In a previous blog post, we discussed some of the concerns around protecting your data, post-Brexit. If you’re reviewing your systems in line with a post-Brexit world, it makes sense to look more widely at where and how you back up your data, and the process you have in place for Disaster Recovery.

One of the big challenges for small and medium-sized businesses is achieving similar levels of resilience and continuity as larger organisations, with fewer resources. Limitations on budget, time, staff and the technology available can all make parity difficult to achieve.

This is where cloud technology comes into its own. With the right partnerships in place, enterprising SMEs can utilise a multi-cloud strategy to ensure Business Continuity while making intelligent use of their resources. 

Cloud hosting ensures you have access to your data from anywhere, and backing your data up through a trusted third party platform like Veeam will give both your team and your customers additional confidence in your business resilience.

On-site server continuity

Key steps for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning

1) Define your needs

Make sure you are clear from the outset on your specific recovery needs. Which applications, systems and data are business critical? Next, identify the recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs).

For an RTO, specify when the clock starts ticking and consider what tolerance could be accepted for an outage. For an RPO, how current is the data before the disaster?

Once you have these, organise each recovery set into logical groupings around similar recovery objectives. You now have an overview of all your business critical technology and datasets organised into workload recovery tiers. This can then be used as a framework to begin discussions with potential cloud service providers.

2) Assign responsibilities

The internal roles and responsibilities for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity should be clearly defined and understood. Who would be available to recover the data and initiate a Disaster Recovery plan?

Each person that will be involved should know what they need to do, who they need to communicate with, and the full chain of command. Chaos often accompanies a disaster, so the ability to calmly and confidently react to rapidly changing circumstances is vital. The time it takes to reach and notify the relevant people should be built in to the overall execution process.

3) Find the right partner

The majority of businesses don’t have the in-house expertise to create a comprehensive and robust Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan. This is why it is important to engage a provider who can also act as your strategic partner. The right provider can help you craft a bespoke plan of how your business would utilise various cloud services to cover your needs.

Not all cloud based hosting and Disaster Recovery systems offer the same level of security. And choosing one of the larger well-known cloud service providers isn’t necessarily the best option. Smaller service providers often deliver a much more personalised service. Look for a UK-based partner that specialises in Disaster Recovery and back up.

Read more on this in our blog post ‘Finding the right Disaster Recovery provider’.

Disaster recovery4) Choose the right level of support

By this stage you should have a clearer understanding of how much help you need and how much you can manage internally. Balancing the limitations of your time and staffing against the limitations of your budget, set out a clear plan with your service provider about what (and how much) input you need from them. Budgeting more than you expect to spend is a prudent approach to guarantee resilience for your business.

5) Select a suitable technology platform

If your business is harnessing a cloud approach, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) should be a key component of your IT infrastructure plan.

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is defined as “a cloud computing and backup service model that uses cloud resources to protect applications and data from disruption caused by disaster. It gives an organisation a total system backup that allows for Business Continuity in the event of system failure.

DRaaS is often offered in conjunction with a Disaster Recovery plan (DRP) or Business Continuity plan (BCP). DRaaS is also known as Business Continuity as a service (BCaaS).”

Our experience in the industry has led us to believe that Veeam offers the best and most cost effective cloud solution for most SMEs, which is why we recommend the Veeam DRaaS solution to our customers.

Veeam’s affordable and efficient image-based replication delivers image-based Disaster Recovery for ALL applications and operating systems.

The benefits of working with virtualDCS for your DRaaS include highly secure protection with our ISO 27001 accreditation and a guarantee of UK-based data centre locations only. We can deliver rapid and immediate recovery with increased flexibility over your data protection, depending on your needs.

Veeam cloud connect replication free trialFREE 14-DAY TRIAL

We also offer a free 14-day trial of our DRaaS solution.

To access your free trial or for more information, call the team on 03453 888 327 or complete the contact form here.

 

 

How do I connect to a Veeam service provider?

It’s incredibly simple to connect to a Veeam service provider and configure your Veeam Cloud Connect solution.

This blog aims to give you a brief guide on how to complete the configuration.

 

 

Before you begin you need to have the following information to hand:

A full username and password for your tenant account (speak to your service provider to register these details). A full IP address or DNS name for the Service Provider you’ll be communicating with.

Stage 1: Find your Veeam service provider

In the wizard open up the background infrastructure view, click on the ‘Service Providers’ and then ‘add a service provider’. In this section enter your IP address or the full DNS name for the Server Provider. You can also add any information for your Veeam service provider.

Stage 2: Cloud Provider configuration

  • Using the port element, specify which port your tenant backup server will use to connect to the gateway. The default port is 6180, but your service provider should be able to specify this if it’s different.
  • If the service provider is managing the tenant’s backup, you should check the box that states you “Allow this Veeam Backup & Replication installation to be managed by the service provider”. This enables the Veeam service provider to be able to manage the backup server through the Availability Console.  System Domain Credentials are needed for the Service Provider to access your console.
  • Click ‘next’.

Step 3: TLS Certification

Veeam service providerIf applicable, in this section you can view and verify the TLS certificate received from the service provider. To view this, just click the link.

  • From the credentials list, select the details for the tenant account, as provided by your Veeam Service Provider. You can also manually add them in this section. When completed, click ‘apply’.

Stage 4: Repository and Replication resources

  • In the resources tab of this screen, the system will automatically calculate the amount of resource given to the tenant, then display the results. After this has completed, click ‘next’. Please note that it may take some time.
  • Within the hardware plans category the wizard will calculate storage, computing and network assets that are available and allocated to the tenant, by the Veeam Service Provider.

Stage 5: Managing Network extensions

In the network extension tab, the wizard will detail extension appliances for the network that will be deployed on the side of the tenant. The network extension appliance is used for maintaining and initially establishing connections between production Virtual Machines and virtual Machine replicas after a partial site failover has been initiated.

Here, using the Network Extension Appliances list, you can also view the default extension settings, add new network extensions (if you have multiple IP networks in production) or edit current ones.

Step 6: Configuring network extension appliances

This window gives two options, where you can edit the existing appliance by selecting and clicking ‘edit’, or offering the facility to add new extensions.

  • Navigate to ‘choose’ and select the host which the network extension needs applying to. This is the source host where your production Virtual Machines will be replicated to the host.
  • This step differs, depending on what hardware plan you have.
    • For VMware Hardware plans, in the ‘resource pool,’ section click ‘choose’ and select the pool where the extension appliance Virtual machine is to be placed. In the Datastore section, click choose and select the store where you would like to keep the files of the network extension appliance VM.
    • For Hyper-V hardware, in the Folder section, press ‘choose’ and select the path and folder where you’d like to keep files of the network expansion VM. In the network section, select the Virtual Switch that the production VMs on the host is currently connected to.

Step 7 (optional): IP clarification

The next step is to confirm the appliance’s settings. If you’d like to assign this automatically (you have DHCP configured in your environment), simply keep the ‘obtain IP address automatically’ selected.  Please note that Veeam Cloud Connect does not currently support DHCP for replication. Further information on the current limitations can be found at  https://helpcenter.veeam.com/docs/backup/cloud/cloud_replication_limitations.html?ver=95

To manually assign the IP address to the appliance, enter the information into the “use the following IP addresses” section, specifying the IP address, Subnet mask and default gateway. Click ‘ok’ to proceed.

Stage 6: Summary of results

At the apply stage of the wizard, you’ll be able to view and save resource information, as well as deploy the specified number of network extension appliances to your host. After this process has completed, just click ‘next’. You’ll then be able to review the configuration and close the wizard.

If you’d like any further advice or information, feel free to leave a comment below, email enquiries@virtualDCS.co.uk or call +44 (0)3453 888 327.

Happy birthday to us! virtualDCS celebrates 10 years of cloud innovation

virtualDCS will be celebrating in style on the 1st September, looking back at a decade of success in the Cloud.

A blog by Richard May, Managing Director.

The Cloud was born here in Leeds. In 2005 the virtualDCS team, working at the ICM Computer Group, built the first ever VMware cloud platform. We also signed the first ever UK lead initiative to provide rented VMware resources. This model is now the cloud as we know it today.

happy birthday virtualDCS - cloud computing expertsAfter many Coffee shop meetings after work, we decided to create virtualDCS and focus on this new IT explosion. Today, we’re still acting as catalysts for change within the industry, with benchmarks such as being the ‘first VMware Service Provider Enterprise partner’ to being one of the largest Veeam Cloud Connect providers in Europe.

Our UK hosted cloud platform now spans multiple sites and is arguably the most mature UK owned cloud platform in the country. This is another accolade we are very proud of.   

With many of our first employees still at the company, our recruitment approach of employing apprentices has been great for us. 10 years and we still have every single one of them. This is why we see our company as a shining example of how the Apprentice Scheme can help people reach their full potential.

Looking toward the future

Now we’ve hit this milestone, we’re not planning on sitting back with our feet up. We’ve just welcomed Colin Meakin as a new non-executive director into the team. We’ve also expanded our support department and are currently recruiting for new business development managers and administrative assistants.

We’ve also just recertified our ISO 27001 status and are working hand in hand with Veeam to launch a new service that the industry hasn’t seen before.

So, how do we do it all, you ask? Looking back it’s safe to say we owe a lot of our success to our fantastic employees. Our strong business values also play a part.

What are our values?

If you split virtualDCS in half like a stick of rock, these values would be right down the middle:

Be dependable – to do what we say we will when we say we will.

To be consistently innovative – We’re always looking to improve, both in business and technology.

Be easy to do business with – Any action that we take makes our customer’s lives easier.

To be an awesome place to work – We want our employees to enjoy coming to work and our customers excited to visit us.

10 years on we’ve still got our first ever customer, and yes, they still enjoy visiting us. As well ensuring our high standards, these values have seen us supporting the community doing many weird and wonderful things, from 7 seated charity bike rides to bring your pet to work week.

With so few businesses managing to hit this milestone, we’re delighted that we’ve reached our 10th birthday. We’re now looking forward to the next 10.

If you’d like to speak to us in more detail about our solutions and our company, we’re always on the other end of the phone. Just call 03453 888 327 or email enquiries@virtualDCS.co.uk.

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