The Minimum Viable Business (MVB) Approach to Disaster Recovery

Organisations of all sizes face a constant barrage of potential disruptions. From natural disasters and cyberattacks to hardware failures and power outages, a robust disaster recovery (DR) plan is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity.

This article introduces the concept of a Minimum Viable Business (MVB) as a core component of your DR plan. It explores how business owners and CISOs can leverage the MVB approach to ensure a faster recovery and minimise downtime during a disaster, such as a ransomware or cyber attack.

Planning a minimum viable business for DR

What is a Minimum Viable Business (MVB) in Disaster Recovery?

Traditionally, DR plans focused on full system restoration, aiming to bring all operations back online as quickly as possible. However, this approach can be resource-intensive and time-consuming. The MVB philosophy takes a different stance. It focuses on identifying the critical functions and resources necessary to maintain core business operations at a minimum level following a disaster.

Think of an MVB as a stripped-down version of your regular business, encompassing the essential processes, data, software, and infrastructure needed to fulfil your most critical functions and serve your most vital customers. By prioritising these core functionalities, an MVB enables a quicker recovery, allowing you to resume operations and minimise revenue losses.

Defining Your MVB

Creating an effective MVB requires careful analysis of your business processes and risk tolerance. Here’s a handy breakdown of the key steps involved:

  1. Identify Critical Business Functions: Start by pinpointing the essential processes that generate revenue, maintain customer satisfaction, and ensure regulatory compliance. This might include core functionalities like processing customer orders, generating invoices, or managing critical data.
  2. Prioritise Data: Not all data is created equal. Determine the data sets that are crucial for supporting your critical business functions. Prioritise the recovery of this critical data in your MVB plan.
  3. Software and Infrastructure Dependencies: Identify the software applications and infrastructure components necessary to run your critical business functions. This could include specific databases, operating systems, and applications needed to support your core processes.
  4. Resource Allocation: Analyse your resources, including personnel, budget, and technology, to determine what you can realistically dedicate to an MVB recovery effort. Remember, the goal is efficiency and expediency.

Key Considerations for Your MVB: Data, Software, Infrastructure, and Tools

When developing your MVB, consider the following key elements:

  • Data: Data forms the lifeblood of most businesses. Focus on prioritising the recovery of critical data sets necessary for your MVB. Consider the impact of data loss on your critical functions and prioritise accordingly.
  • Software: Identify the essential software applications needed to support your MVB functionalities. Explore cloud-based alternatives for some applications to improve recovery time and reduce reliance on on-premise infrastructure. Don’t forget to explore any licensing demands that could trip-up your move to clean infrastructure or a virtual alternative.
  • Infrastructure: Determine the minimum infrastructure required to run your MVB. Explore options like infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Coovenco’s rental equipment solutions to quickly provision resources in a disaster scenario. These can help reduce reliance on potentially damaged physical infrastructure.
  • Tools: Utilise tools for backup, replication, and orchestration to streamline your MVB recovery process. These tools can automate tasks, such as data restoration and application deployment, leading to faster recovery times.

Weighting Importance: Prioritising Your MVB Components

Not all components within your MVB will hold the same weight. Here’s how to prioritise their importance:

  • Business Impact Analysis (BIA): Conduct a BIA to assess the impact of downtime on different business processes. This analysis will help you identify the functionalities that require the fastest recovery and influence which data sets and resources are prioritised in your MVB.
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO): Consider your RTO (maximum tolerable downtime) and RPO (maximum acceptable data loss) for each critical function. These metrics will guide your prioritisation of MVB components, ensuring you focus on recovering the most critical functions within acceptable downtime and data loss thresholds.

Planning for Recovery: Different Disasters, Different MVBs

The specific configuration of your MVB might vary depending on the type of disaster you are facing. Let’s explore some common scenarios:

  • Cyberattacks & Ransomware: Focus on isolating infected systems and quickly recovering clean copies of your critical data. Prioritise the tools and resources needed for security investigation and containment.
  • Natural Disasters: Ensure your MVB can be readily deployed from a geographically separate location. Prioritise cloud-based solutions and tools that allow for remote access to critical data and applications.
  • Power Outages: Invest in redundant power sources and infrastructure that can sustain your MVB operations during short-term outages.

Aligning Your MVB with RTO and RPO

RTO (Recovery Time Objective): RTO defines the maximum tolerable downtime for your critical business functions after a disaster. A well-defined MVB directly contributes to meeting your RTOs. By prioritising the recovery of essential data, software, and infrastructure, your MVB enables a faster resumption of core operations. This minimises revenue loss and service disruptions to your customers.

RPO (Recovery Point Objective): RPO defines the maximum acceptable amount of data loss that can be tolerated. Your MVB plan should ensure the recovery of critical data to a point within your RPO. Techniques like frequent backups and replication can help minimise data loss and ensure your MVB operates with the most recent, recoverable data.

The MVB and Disaster Recovery Objectives: By strategically aligning your MVB with your RTO and RPO, you create a targeted recovery plan that focuses on restoring the most critical functionalities within acceptable downtime and data loss thresholds. This targeted approach allows for a more efficient recovery process compared to a full-system restoration, which might exceed your RTO or RPO for some business functions.

How to define a minimum viable business for disaster recovery with Covenco

The Importance of Immutable Backups: Keeping Ransomware at Bay

Disasters come in many forms, and cyberattacks like ransomware pose a significant threat to business continuity. Ransomware encrypts critical data, rendering it unusable until a ransom is paid. Traditional backups can be vulnerable to ransomware attacks, as attackers might target and encrypt backup copies as well.

This is where immutable backups become crucial. Immutable backups are unalterable copies of your data, created at specific points in time. Once created, these backups cannot be modified or deleted, ensuring you have a clean, ransomware-free copy of your data available for recovery.

Incorporating immutable backups into your MVB strategy provides a vital line of defence against ransomware attacks. By prioritising the recovery of immutable backups containing your critical data, you can restore your MVB functionalities without succumbing to the attacker’s demands.

Tools for your MVB Recovery Toolbox

Several tools can significantly enhance your MVB recovery process. Here are some key examples:

  • Backup and Replication Tools:
    These tools automate
    the process of backing up your critical data and replicating it to a secondary location. This ensures data availability for recovery in the event of a disaster. Tools like IBM Spectrum Protect Plus and IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Data Copy can provide comprehensive backup and replication solutions.
  • Orchestration Tools:
    Orchestration tools automate the tasks involved in deploying your MVB. These tools can automate tasks like provisioning infrastructure, deploying applications, and restoring data. IBM Cloud Orchestrator provides a robust platform for automating MVB recovery workflows.
  • Cloud-Based Solutions:
    Cloud computing offers a flexible and scalable infrastructure platform. By employing cloud-based solutions for your MVB, you can leverage readily available resources for faster recovery times. Explore IBM Cloud solutions like IBM Cloud, IBM Power VS and IBM Virtual Private Cloud to build a cloud-ready MVB.

IBM Safeguarded Copy: Delivering Your MVB Faster

While traditional backups and cloud-based solutions offer valuable benefits, their recovery times might not always meet your RTO requirements for critical functions. This is where IBM Safeguarded Copy shines.

IBM Safeguarded Copy creates thin-clones and snapshots to create near-instantaneous, recoverable copies of your data. These copies are stored on the same storage system as your primary data, eliminating the need for time-consuming data transfers from offsite backups.

In the context of your MVB, IBM Safeguarded Copy allows for a much faster recovery of your critical data compared to traditional backup and replication methods. This translates to a quicker deployment of your MVB functionalities, minimising downtime and ensuring faster business continuity following a disaster.

Building a Resilient Business with the MVB Approach

The MVB approach to disaster recovery empowers businesses to prioritise critical functions and achieve faster recovery times in the event of a disruption. By focusing on the essential data, software, infrastructure, and tools needed to maintain core business operations, an MVB minimises downtime and ensures business continuity is maintained.

Implementing an MVB Strategy:

Covenco offers a comprehensive suite of services to help you develop and implement your MVB strategy. Our team of experts can assist you in conducting a BIA, identifying critical business functions, and prioritising data, software, infrastructure, and tools for your MVB. Additionally, Covenco can help you leverage IBM’s leading storage and cloud solutions, including IBM Spectrum Protect Plus, IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Data Copy, IBM Cloud Orchestrator, IBM Cloud Bare Metal Servers, and IBM Cloud Virtual Private Cloud, to build a robust and efficient MVB recovery plan.

A Final Word: Continuous Improvement

Disaster recovery is an ongoing process. It’s crucial to regularly test your MVB plan to ensure its effectiveness. Conducting periodic MVB recovery drills allows you to identify and address any potential gaps in your plan. Additionally, as your business evolves, your MVB should adapt as well. Regularly review your critical business functions, data sets, and resource requirements to ensure your MVB remains aligned with your current needs.

By adopting the MVB approach and leveraging the expertise of Covenco and IBM’s leading technology solutions, you can build a disaster recovery plan that fosters business resilience and minimises the impact of disruptions. This proactive approach ensures your business remains operational and competitive, even in the face of unforeseen challenges.

For further information on MVB and disaster recovery solutions, please contact Covenco.

Additionally, you can find more details on IBM’s relevant products and services through the following resources:

By combining the strategic planning of the MVB approach with the power of IBM’s technology solutions and Covenco’s expertise, you can create a disaster recovery plan that safeguards your business and ensures its continued success.