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Disaster Recovery Plans: How Well Is Your Business Prepared to Deal with the Worst?

By Justin Stokes
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Whether natural or manmade, a disaster will adversely affect every aspect of a company. The real question at hand is, "How badly?" The severity of that impact, in terms of income loss, cessation of normal income-producing operations, etc., depends entirely upon the presence and implementation of a well-designed IT disaster recovery plan.

The strategies the business uses to restart its IT operations are a key part of its disaster recovery plan (DRP). As it relates to information technology, the DRP is a guide for maintaining IT continuity in the event that a business’s resources are destroyed. A thorough DRP includes plans for recovering IT hardware and equipment, data records, the physical space in which the IT infrastructure is located, and the staff needed to restore operations.

When should a disaster recovery plan be executed?

In the event of a disaster, CIOs will place a top priority on protecting the company’s IT resources. Such action will likely be only part of a business’s larger DRP that provides action steps for operations outside of information technology, with the safety and security of all employees taking priority above all else.

The term “disaster” is relative, and can refer to any number of occurrences that disrupt operations. Weather events, like hurricanes or tornadoes, may prompt the activation of a DRP. Disasters can also be man-made, and can stem from power outages caused by human error or even acts of cybercrime. The properly designed DRP will clearly identify what constitutes a disaster so that the When and Why for the plan's activation are clear to executive leadership and the disaster response team alike.

What’s in a Disaster Recovery Plan?

Every business has its own unique technology fingerprint, with an infrastructure all its own to suit the specific needs of the operation. As a technology plan will vary from one business to another, so too will the content in a DRP. 

But that’s not to say that one planning a DRP is without helpful guidelines. Regardless of the business, each DRP will have the same goal of restoring a company to its operational status pre-disaster. This is accomplished through businesses meeting the recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO) outlined in their DRP.

The RPO is the point in time (prior to the outage) in which systems and data must be restored to for operations to resume in the event that a company’s system goes down. An RTO is is the period of time after an outage in which the systems and data must be restored to the predetermined RPO. 

Planning for how much time and data a business is "allowed" to lose will help CIOs outline what’s needed in their DRP. That way, the company can make provisions for backup infrastructure, redundant power supply, access of backup data, and continual backup. A business’s DRP is only as effective as the efforts taken to test the plan, As such, DRPs should be reviewed at least annually to make sure that the plan is effective in restarting operations. 

How can the latest technology be used for my disaster recovery plan?

In the past, disaster recovery solutions were available to businesses as à la carte options, with businesses having to put together the components of their DRPs. With the increased awareness of how disasters can affect the onsite operations of a business, some technology vendors have created top-to-bottom solutions for disruptive scenarios. 

Instead of a piecemeal approach to a backup strategy, replicated environments can untether emergency operations from the physical location of a business. With more businesses expected to incorporate some sort of remote work model in the near future, disaster recovery plans may need to take into account how company IT operations could be impacted by natural and manmade disasters. 

The world is an uncertain place. Protecting your enterprise with a current disaster recovery plan won’t eliminate the uncertainties. But it can bring some much needed clarity to how your business will respond if misfortune strikes.

 

Read More: Businesses can't afford not to take into account for data recovery as part of their disaster recovery plans. Take a look at some of eWeek’s top data recovery platforms for 2021.

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Justin Stokes is a freelance journalist and professional writer based in Nashville, TN. He covers enterprise technology and business, along with being a content creator for different industries, including the creative community and real estate.

 
This article was originally published on 04-27-2021