Any moment a disaster can bring down a business as we have seen this week with hurricane Ida. Research has shown that most businesses won’t survive a major disaster such as this if they don’t have adequate data protection and preparation. It is important to evaluate your IT infrastructure to determine what measures can be taken to reduce the impact of a disaster and to quickly recover from it. For your business IT disaster recovery plan to be successful, you need to include four key elements.
What does IT disaster recovery mean for your business?
IT disaster recovery refers to the process of anticipating, planning, surviving, and recovering after a disaster that could affect a company’s business. These disasters may include:
- Natural events such as earthquakes and hurricanes
- Equipment or infrastructure failures, such as power outages or hard drive failures.
- Man-made disasters like accidental deletion of data or equipment loss
- Cyberattacks by hackers and malicious insiders
Businesses can quickly respond to disasters with an IT disaster recovery plan. They can take immediate actions to minimize damage and resume operations as soon as possible.
A disaster recovery plan usually includes:
- Staff can perform emergency procedures in the event of a disaster
- Critical IT assets and the maximum allowable outage time
- Recovery tools and technologies
- Contact information for the disaster recovery team and procedures for communication (e.g. Who should be notified in the event of a disaster?
What is IT Disaster Recovery?
The following are some of the benefits to creating a disaster recovery program and making sure you have the right people in place to execute it:
Avoid interruptions – even if the disaster is totally unexpected, your business will be able to continue its operations with minimal disruption.
Limit damage – A disaster will undoubtedly cause damage. However, you can limit the damage. Businesses should plan to move sensitive equipment from hurricane-prone areas and put it in a room without windows.
Training and preparation – Having a disaster recovery plan in place will ensure that your staff is prepared to respond in the event of a catastrophe. This will reduce stress and give your team a plan of action in case an emergency occurs.
Services restoration – Having a solid disaster plan will allow you to quickly restore mission-critical services back to normal. The Recovery Time Objective (RTO), will determine how long you are willing and able to wait before service is restored.
Four Essential Features of an IT Disaster Recovery Program
These are the four essential elements you should include in your disaster recovery process and plan to ensure continuity for your business.
- Know your Threats
You should learn about your industry and history, as well as the risks that you might face. These could include natural disasters, geopolitical incidents like civil unrest, failure of critical equipment such as servers, Internet connections, or software, or cyber-attacks that are most likely.
Your disaster recovery plan should be effective against all or the least likely or most serious threats. You may need to create separate DR plans for certain types of disasters.
- Know your Assets
It is important to be thorough. Gather your team and create a list of all assets necessary for your daily business operations. This includes servers, network equipment, workstations, and software. Once you have your list, organize it into:
- You cannot run your business without critical assets, such as an email server.
- Some activities can be severely hampered by important assets, such as a projector that is used to present information.
- Other assets will not have a significant impact on the business, such as a recreational system that employees use during their lunch breaks.
Define your Recovery Time Objective for Critical Assets (RTO). How long can you afford to be offline? A high-traffic eCommerce site can suffer severe financial loss for each minute of downtime. A downtime of a few days may allow an accounting firm to resume normal operations, providing there are no data losses. You can create a process to obtain technology that will allow you to bring your operations back online within the RTO.
3. Backup Data
The ability to backup and replicate data is a key component of every IT disaster recovery plan. Although many companies schedule data backups on a regular basis, it is better to have data replicated continuously to another system for disaster recovery. Data can be replicated to:
- Cold Storage on-site
- Backup device in your data center
- On-site Warm Backup
- For example, a redundant operational unit in your data centre, such as a secondary server.
- Cold Storage Off-Site
- Off-Site Warm Backup
- An operational redundant unit within a remote data centre or cloud storage with low latency that allows for immediate data access
Although local storage is less resistant to disaster, it has a shorter RTO. You can also replicate and backup data more often, increasing your Recovery Point Objective (RPO). This means you can recover your data from any point in the future.
- Test Backups and Restore of Services
Backups can also fail in the event of a disaster. Many horror stories have been told about organizations that installed a backup system but found out too late that it was not working correctly. You may not know the problem until you test your backups.
It is essential to ensure that the data is replicated to the target location is correct. It is equally important to verify that data can be restored to the production site. These tests should be performed once you have set up your disaster recovery system and then repeated periodically to verify that it is still functioning.
Actionable Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans
The business continuity plan outlines how a company will continue to operate and serve its customers even in the event of a natural disaster, IT failure, or cyberattack. The ultimate goal of a business continuity plan is to protect a company’s financial viability and market position, reputation, customers, and customers in times of crisis.
Sometimes, the terms disaster recovery plan and business continuity plan can be interchangeably used. A disaster recovery plan is an important part of a business continuity plan. This article explains the concept of business continuity and outlines how it differs from a disaster plan. It also shows an actual example of a business continuation plan.