Busting 5 Myths of Disaster Recovery

disaster recovery plan“It’s not if you’ll be struck by a disaster, but when.”

It’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Broadcasters, programmers and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) companies currently face a much broader set of threats to their operational continuity than they did even just a few years ago, with potentially deeper consequences.

Media organizations should have DR, but there are a lot of misconceptions around it that are either holding companies back from implementing a comprehensive solution, or are setting them up for disappointing results with the DR approaches they’ve chosen. Below are some popular myths that we’re shattering.

Myth #1: Evergreen content is good enough

Why it’s false:
DR strategies that rely completely on evergreen content – previously recorded shows that can be transmitted at any time from a rights perspective – may keep your channel on-air (or online), but they fail to meet your obligations to advertisers and content license holders. Evergreen content also won’t hold your viewers’ attention, and once they turn away, they may be slow to return.

A good DR solution will automatically synchronize your program content, ad spots and playlists with your primary playout system, keeping your DR environment as up-to-date as possible and using evergreen material only as a last resort.

Myth #2: Your DR systems must match your primary gear

Why it’s false:
Your DR solution does not need to be built on the same platform or components as your primary environment. A flexible media management and workflow system for content synchronization, paired with a cost-effective integrated playout solution, is fully capable of maintaining playout at a fraction of the cost of the primary site’s equipment.

In fact, exactly replicating the architecture of the primary site at the backup location can create additional maintenance headaches by requiring that both systems be upgraded on the same schedule to keep interoperating properly.

Myth #3: My existing DR approach is still good enough

Why it’s false:
Not only are there more sources of risk today – for example, cyber-attacks – but the impact of outages can be much longer-lasting than a few years ago.

Beyond the obvious ad revenue impact, today’s audiences have far less loyalty and many more options for how to consume content than ever before. Even a few minutes of downtime can be enough to lose viewers for the day, week or even beyond.

Media organizations need to re-evaluate whether their existing DR solutions are still adequate for today’s file-based operations, limited viewer attention span and hyper-connected culture.

Myth #4: I don’t have enough bandwidth for synchronized DR

Why it’s false:
Keeping DR content up-to-date requires a lot of file transfers between your primary and backup locations, so it’s true that the more bandwidth you have, the better. But if the network connectivity to your DR site is limited by technical challenges or high costs, shrinking media file sizes by transcoding to a lower bit rate can help.

A DR solution with built-in transcoding that can automatically reduce the bit rates of media files without manual intervention will move your programs and ad spots faster and more efficiently, even on bandwidth-constrained links.

Myth #5: Disaster recovery solutions are just for disasters

Why it’s false:
The value of offsite disaster recovery solutions isn’t limited to addressing unpredictable outages; such systems can also be used preventively.

Media companies who are performing major system upgrades at their primary site can intentionally switch operations over to their offsite DR playout environment before starting such maintenance, eliminating the risk of any service disruptions without waiting for problems to strike. Once the upgrades are completed and validated, operation can be returned to the primary systems.

Don’t fall victim to these or other DR fallacies. If you haven’t already implemented DR for your playout environment, can you really afford not to? And if you do have a solution in place, is it really still adequate for today’s challenges?

Delve further into the truth behind these myths and learn about additional key considerations – including how to keep your newscast audience engaged despite an outage – in our in-depth white paper.