The six most career-killing words in the English language have got to be, “Uh, I didn’t think of that…” That’s assuming “uh,” counts as a word, but “uh” seldom does you many favors in the job security department. We live in an uncertain world. Disasters of all kinds lurk in the shadows. These include natural phenomena as well as singularly human disasters like ransomware and crippling data breaches. It’s absolutely necessary to prepare for disaster, so you’ll never have to utter those deadly words. Now, for organizations that run SAP, your options include cloud disaster recovery for SAP.
The Need for Disaster Planning and Business Continuity
If you work in IT, it’s tempting to think of disaster planning solely in tech terms. That is a miscalculation, in our experience. Of course, you must deliver IT in the event of a disaster. There’s more to it, though. Best practices recommend making disaster recovery (DR) planning part of (or at last aligned with) a higher-level business continuity plan.
Business continuity involves taking steps to ensure that a business can continue to function despite a disaster. Indeed, though IT risks are considerable, many threats to business continuity are quite analog. A forest fire, for example. It might force the evacuation of employees. A well-thought-out business continuity plan will have a contingency for this kind of incident.
The Disaster Recovery Plan for SAP
An organization that runs its operations on SAP needs to place SAP recovery at the heart of its DR plan. If your SAP instance goes down, what will you do? Before you answer that question, however, you have to determine two crucial pieces of information: Your RTO and your RPO.
The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is one of those simple, but not so simple, concepts in DR. Simply put, the RTO is the maximum period of time you want your systems to be unavailable due to an outage. Whether it’s a hurricane or a network failure, you want to have system availability within the RTO.
RTOs tend to vary depending on the IT asset in question. For electronic trading systems and software that runs large banks, the RTO might be measured in seconds. In this sort of scenario, you may want a “mirror site” that is 100% identical and synchronized with your primary system. For less critical systems like, say, transportation scheduling, an RTO of one hour might be acceptable.. For non-critical systems, like archives of old file folders, the RTO could be a matter of days.
The best practice is to focus the fastest RTOs on what is most critical to keep the business going. That may not be self-evident. Generally, it pays to ask the business managers what they consider to be the highest priority in business continuity before working toward an RTO.
A Recovery Point Objective, or RPO, refers to the point of data processing you wish to recover to if there is a disaster. Unless it’s mirrored, when a system like SAP ERP fails, it will inevitably lose some data, even if it’s just a few seconds worth. Even with a mirror, there can be small losses of data. The RPO determines how much data loss you’re willing to accept. The level depends on your business. If you trade stocks, your RPO is very sensitive. If you ship gravel on a monthly basis, you might be able to withstand a much longer RPO.
What is Cloud Disaster Recovery for SAP?
Cloud computing offers several SAP DR advantages over on-premises alternatives. It’s a good financial proposition. Being able to shift SAP processing to infrastructure that’s in another region without having to build, equip and operate a separate data center is a big savings. With the cloud, it becomes relatively affordable to run a mirror site.
The cloud is also inherently more flexible for DR. If you’re running bare metal in parallel in two data centers, then every time you change hardware, software or integrations in one, you have to do the same in the other. Virtualization simplifies this a bit, but you are still locked in to physical infrastructure that you need to support. Scalability is the other big advantage of the cloud for DR. You can easily spin up massive amounts of backup resources.
Selecting a Disaster Recovery Partner for SAP
You can establish your own cloud-based DR for SAP, but there are a variety of options like Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) that may be simpler and more effective. You can also work with a specialized provider of SAP cloud-based DR plans. If you’re looking for an SAP DR partner, we suggest you focus on the following capabilities:
- Simplicity and completeness – How fully does the partner platform take into account your overall business strategy and unique needs, while still being intuitive and simple to use?
- Scalability – Can the partner solution scale rapidly in the event of a disaster?
- Customizability – How well does the partner handle your needs for a customized DR solution?
- Reliability – Does the partner use high availability (HA) clusters to achieve fast RTOs and RPOs?