Business continuity describes steps taken to assure that a company can keep operating in the face of threats. These measures help businesses function during and after a disaster. Disaster recovery is usually considered a subset of business continuity planning.
In business terms, a disaster refers to an unplanned event that stops or hinders your operations. IT people typically discuss disaster recovery in terms of computer systems, but comprehensive disaster recovery plans would also include all aspects of a business.
Some examples of disasters could include cyber attacks, fires, windstorms, power interruptions, corrupted computer storage, and transportation problems. They could even include business processes and human or mechanical failures. In a broader sense, disasters that involve such intangible assets as reputation and intellectual property should be considered.
Often shortened to DR, disaster recovery refers to the business continuity measures an organization will take to protect people and get operations restored through backup systems or other remediation. This could include such actions as restoring or replacing computer systems and production machinery, combating fraud, rerouting employees to a backup location, safety measures, or handling reputation management.
Naturally, most organizations plan for rapid disaster recovery. Because they may need to balance their budgets with an investment in disaster recovery, they may prioritize some critical systems that they need to bring up right away and some that could wait.
Disaster Recovery Plan
The disaster recovery plan, or DRP, refers to a set of documents that offer detailed instructions for resuming operations in the event of a disaster. It should include steps to take, recovery priorities, risk assessments, contact information for responsible employees and partners, and necessary equipment, technology, and services. A DRP should be subject to periodic review, as it may evolve as needs change.
In addition, disaster recovery plans should be tested or simulated as well as possible to ensure they will work as planned. Organizations might include this disaster recovery test plan in the project to develop a disaster recovery plan.
Disaster Recovery Site
A disaster recovery site describes an alternate physical or virtual location or equipment to continue operations in the event the main system or location isn’t usable. For instance:
- In IT terms, this type of redundancy may consist of backup computer resources, such as a mirror system stored offsite in the cloud.
- For manufacturers, the DRS may be a secondary location where production can continue.
Disaster recovery sites may be classified as hot, warm, and cold sites. Fully functional, or hot sites, can start operations immediately and may function as a virtual duplicate of the damaged operational item. Warm sites might need some minimal preparation before they can operate. Cold sites would consist of appropriate locations that still need hardware, software, or other equipment transferred or installed. Cost, manpower, the critical nature of the operation, and other factors may determine the type of disaster recovery site to choose.
Redundancy refers to duplicating vulnerable resources to enable a quick recovery. Some common examples of disaster recovery redundancy may include a backup power generator, cloud backups for data storage, and the disaster recovery sites described above.
The first steps of disaster recovery planning include risk assessments. Risk assessment refers to identifying potential hazards, assessing the likelihood of the hazard, and determining potential damage. Risk assessments may be based upon historical or current data, stakeholder concerns, analytical models, and informed opinions.
Because organizations need to invest in disaster recovery, risk assessment should also include prioritizing various operations. For instance, the loss of a mission-critical computer system could devastate a company, so that business may budget more money for that system’s disaster recovery than for old, archival data storage that the company could operate without for some time.
Risk management refers to evaluating risks and developing plans to minimize their impact but also to preventing them. For example, a disaster recovery plan minimizes the damage that a disaster may do to an organization. During the process of assessing risks, it may be possible to find solutions that will reduce the risk of some hazards threatening an organization at all.
For instance, better cybersecurity and governance can help reduce the risks of having computer systems damaged by hackers or human errors. As another example, safety programs can keep key people and equipment from harm.
Is Your Organization Prepared to Avoid and Recover From Disasters?
No location or business is immune to hazards that could shut them down, but the areas and degrees of vulnerability may vary. As the old adage says, failing to plan for disaster recovery is like planning to fail because of a disaster.
On the other hand, working with an auditing partner such as I.S. Partners, LLC can offer your organization peace of mind because you will know that you can minimize risks and recover from potential threats. Call upon us at 215-675-1400 or request a quote. Tell us about your disaster recovery concerns, and we’ll explain how our solutions will alleviate them.