How disaster recovery is changing in the digital transformation era

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The paper documents we’ve based our businesses on for hundreds of years have an inherent problem, they’re easily destroyed, be that from fire, flood or natural disaster. Paper documents are not robust – if a business suffers a fire then its documents and with it all of their valuable data are also destroyed.

One of the ways businesses have traditionally used to avoid this is to create a Disaster Recovery (DR) solution and to copy and digitise the documents and to store those copies off-site. However this too also has its problems; should there be a problem the documents need to be retrieved and space needs to be allocated for their temporary use, additionally there are costs for storing the copies, and while they may not be as high as city-centre rates, they are still an overhead.

The growth of DRaaS

One of the ways that businesses are starting to reduce the dependence on paper and to speed up and streamline the recovery process is through disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS), and it’s a solution that businesses are rushing to adopt, according to Research and Markets DRaaS is expected to grow at a CAGR of 52 percent over the period 2014-2019. This cloud-based solution allows businesses to not just backup their data but also enables them to be able to, shoulder a disaster happen, recover not just access to their data but also all of their applications. So the business is back up and running often on the same day.

DRaaS in the cloud also gives an added mobility benefit, because the data and applications are in the cloud and accessible via the Internet they can be accessed from any device, so employees get access to their business data on smartphones, tablets and any device that connects to the Internet.

When the process was complete, many of the valuable historical records were extremely fragile. The array of documents included a wide range of types, sizes and conditions. What’s more, many of the items were bound into oversized books, increasing the difficulty of handling them. Schoharie County faced an enormous challenge of digitising all the records to preserve them for their historical value and also to meet regulatory mandates.

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Do more with your data

When you’re digitising the data for transmission and use in the cloud, this is also the perfect opportunity to add value and to make sure that you’re not just saving the data, but that you are also able to exploit the data.

Gartner Research’s Senior Vice President, Peter Sondergaard said, “Data is inherently dumb, it doesn’t actually do anything unless you know how to use it, and how to act with it.”

What he means is that the data is just the start of the process, digitizing your data and putting it in a DR solution is perfect if all you want is to store your data safely in a secondary location, but it’s not a solution for business efficiency and it will not transform your business and make it smarter.

The move to a Digital Transformation in business, that Gartner and every other analyst is currently advocating, is all about making that dumb data clever. And you can only do that by making the data work for you, and making it active, and the best way to do that is to route it to the right process and to put it in the hands of the people within your organisation who can act upon it.

Lastly, if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a flood, then it may not mean a total loss. Back in 2011 tropical storm Irene flooded Schoharie County in upstate New York, and more than 1,700 boxes of Schoharie County court documents dating back to 1795 were among the casualties. Completely inundated under five feet of water, the records were retrieved and treated with a remediation process to dry, restore, and preserve them.

However even in their fragile state, Kodak’s i4200 scanners were able to automate the digitization of 90 percent of the documents, with the other 10 percent scanned by hand. The records are now all digitized, and if there is ever another flood, they are ready to bounce back.

I’ll leave you with one final thought that describes how disaster recovery has changed with cloud computing. Whereas data was previously stored on hard disk in the data center, now with the cloud, businesses are reliant on someone or something else where they don’t have control and hope their data is safe. What’s the disaster recovery policy for a data center in the ocean or space? The next frontier awaits…

To read more about how your data can be part of your digital transformation then look at our article on how document image capture is playing an essential role in digital transformation.