No matter how reliable your business software is, disasters can and will happen. Where disaster recovery used to focus primarily on natural events that took systems down and offline, it now focuses on the growing pervasiveness of ransomware and malware. In fact, Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that global ransomware damages would increase nearly 62X between 2015 and 2021, reaching $20 billion. And they were right. The truth is, any business can be targeted or affected by downtime, and you need to be prepared.
Dynamics 365 Business Central users may be wondering if they need to purchase additional disaster recovery support now that the cloud-based version of the software is available. The short answer is yes, you always need a disaster recovery plan. However, the urgency is significantly less when you use Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central in a Software as a Service (SaaS) configuration compared to having an in-house server network. Having your accounting or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system running in the cloud removes or reduces a number of risks, but it won’t solve all your problems in the event of a catastrophe. To better understand this issue, let’s further dive into the basics of a Business Central SaaS environment.
The Database Runs on Microsoft’s Dedicated SQL Azure Servers With a Guaranteed Uptime of 99.9%
A major difference between Microsoft’s Azure servers and your typical localized servers is that Microsoft is continually scanning the environment for problems and fixing them proactively. With localized services, you generally find out about problems after they happen and your system is down. Microsoft guarantees an uptime just shy of 100%, so you can feel confident about having having access to your data and your system at all times.
Each Microsoft Dynamics Business Central SaaS Database has Four Live Copies
Microsoft has built in redundancies for protection. The first three copies of your Business Central database are in the customer primary data center, and there is a last in a different, geo-redundant location for extra measure. If the primary database copy goes down, the system automatically flips over to the secondary copy and a new live copy is spun up. If the entire primary data center goes down or contact is lost, the customer is connected to the fourth copy in the second center.
Microsoft Proactively Develops Patches Before Virus Makers Are Aware of Vulnerabilities
Most viruses are developed after Microsoft has identified a vulnerability, developed a patch, and patched their servers. A local server may not be updated as quickly and it is these servers the virus makers are hoping to take advantage of. They are gambling that they can create a virus to exploit the problem before people patch their equipment. Virus generating software speeds up this process for the bad guys.
Losing Your Internet Connection is a Greater Threat
Your internet has a FAR greater chance of going down than a Microsoft data center. For many customers, reconnecting to the Business Central database can be as simple as setting up a hotspot using a cell phone. A high speed cell connection is fast enough to support a few connections, and the Business Central database will easily be available for either a linked computer or via a mobile Business Central app on a smartphone or tablet.
Business Central Allows Copies of Databases to be Downloaded
This means you can now keep database backup copies locally and in another web location. This does need to be scheduled or done manually, but it offers additional assurance beyond already having four live copies of your database in two different locations.
So, Why Bother With a Disaster Recovery Plan to Support your Microsoft Dynamics Business Central SaaS Database?
When you are utilizing a Dynamics 365 Business Central database in a SaaS environment, the matter of disaster recovery isn’t really a technology question anymore. It is about preparedness and building a proactive plan, so you aren’t caught flat-footed if some catastrophe happens. A delay of even one day to get people up and running is costly. If it takes longer, the impacts escalate rather quickly in lost productivity, customer confidence, and sales.
You need to plan on how handle lost access to your system. Here are a few actions to consider:
- Identify whether the internet connection is still working.
- If it is not, spend no more than one half hour troubleshooting the problem with your provider and IT staff. Then you should have a process in place to set up cellphone hotspots (or the equivalent) to get your key users working again. Certain users may have paper forms ready to go in an emergency, which can then be input into the system when it comes back up. Have a plan ready, train your users, and document the emergency procedures to follow!
- If the internet is working and access to Microsoft seems to be lost, contact your Business Central partner as quickly as possible to make sure they are working on the problem. Outages are rare and generally short in duration, but they may occur.
- In the very unlikely event the database on the Microsoft server is corrupted or lost, users should have a process to run manually for an extended period of time. The next step will depend on Microsoft’s response. They may be able to get their system running again without any loss of data but you may need to take that periodic database download you have stored in a safe place and restore it.
We hope this short discussion helps you in deciding what recovery elements to implement for your organization to be better prepared for possible disasters. If you need help with setting up a disaster recovery plan or have any questions, please contact us here.