Every company faces the threat of a disaster that could have potentially major negative impacts on its bottom line. The best way to respond to these types of threats is to develop a disaster recovery strategy described in a disaster recovery plan.
But what exactly is a disaster recovery plan? How does it differ from a business continuity plan? What are the major features and benefits of a disaster recovery plan?
A business continuity plan defines the operations you need to have in place to keep your business operations functioning smoothly. A disaster recovery plan outlines what you need to do to prepare for or respond to a disaster. They can be similar, and some organizations use the terms interchangeably. But there is a distinction.
Having a well-structured, documented disaster recovery plan helps your organization prepare for when your IT systems are impacted in such a way that hinders normal operations. Writing your plan isn't an easy process. It will require input - and more importantly, buy-in - from every department within your organization. It will require them to review the document to ensure their piece of your company's disaster recovery operations is captured correctly.
A disaster response plan should include:
Your disaster recovery plan should answer the following questions:
The reason it's important to have a disaster recovery strategy in place is that it helps give everyone in your organization a clear set of roles and responsibilities prior to a disaster occurring. It forces your entire team to ask tough questions when times aren't so tough. That prepares your company for when a disaster does strike, and you'll already have considered the worst possible outcome and how to react to it. It's a proactive approach to disaster management.
The type of disaster recovery plan will vary depending on the size, scope, and location of your company. It also depends on how much data you have. There are three primary forms of disaster recovery plans, including:
An offsite data centre is a great system for larger companies that have room at an offsite location for backup, a significant distance from your primary data centre. Cloud disaster recovery enables a company to opt for geographically distributed backup data with failover servers only used when needed. Finally, disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is typically an agreement between the company and an external vendor to manage the backup. Most of the operations fall on the vendor, consulting the company as necessary.
There are numerous benefits to having a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place, including:
In order to manage a potential disaster and assess how that will affect your IT inventory, you need to be aware of what you have in place to start with. A disaster recovery plan helps you take stock of all the various IT hardware, software and systems your team uses. You can also use this to examine how you use these tools and gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of using each one.
A critical component of any disaster recovery strategy is being able to test its effectiveness. If you hold a training drill to determine how the plan will work in the event of a real disaster, you give your team the ability to collaborate on a disaster-like scenario. They'll get to see how well they'd work together and also where the problem areas might lie in the event of a real disaster. It provides you with actionable data on how well your entire organization is set up to respond to a disaster.
Having no disaster recovery strategy in place is a recipe for a catastrophe. Obviously, no one wants to have to respond to a disaster. It disrupts your work and can do irrevocable damage to your company if it's dangerous enough. But documenting a valid disaster response plan is good risk management. It helps you think about what type of issues could occur in the event of an emergency as well as the best way to fix them after they take place.
Writing and implementing a disaster recovery plan can no doubt be an intimidating task for any business. But ask yourself the following questions:
No matter the answer to these questions, the answer to one question is clear: when it comes to which business should have a disaster recovery plan, the answer is all of them.
Every business has vulnerabilities. Every business faces the risk of a disaster that can impede their ability to complete the mission. To mitigate their risks, it's on every business to develop a holistic disaster recovery plan to ensure no event is fatal to the health of the organization.
At UK IT Service, we have experienced, London based IT consultants and technicians who will assist with your risk assessment and disaster recovery planning. If you need monthly IT support or ad-hoc IT projects we have the expertise and experience to support your company. Contact us for any London IT support needs and we'll be glad to help.