A natural or human-induced disaster not only results in a loss of lives but can also impact businesses. Cases of firms losing important data and vital infrastructure when a disaster came knocking at their door aren’t unheard of. Just because your company is located in a low-risk zone does not mean that there’s zero chance of nature’s fury striking it.
Natural disasters are inevitable, and there’s very little that you can do to shield critical infrastructure from it. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot do anything to mitigate damage. To ensure business continuity, you need to have a disaster recovery plan in place.
What is disaster recovery?
Disaster recovery involves a set of rules, policies, processes, and tools specially designed to help the business resume its mission. It majorly focuses on IT systems that support vital functions.
Types of disaster recovery plans
Data center disaster recovery
In this approach, disaster recovery planning extends beyond the IT systems of the business and involves the entire building. Everything from features and tools, such as the HVAC and fire mitigation systems housed in the building, to security and support systems are accounted for.
The objective of a data center disaster recovery plan is to ensure that these components are functional when a catastrophe hits. When preparing for a data center outage, your disaster recovery team may ask different teams, including facilities management team, IT team, and security team, to provide inputs related to their functions.
Network disaster recovery
This disaster recovery method focuses on identifying actions required to restore network connectivity. A network disaster recovery plan usually includes protocols related to contacting the right IT personnel and acquiring networking equipment (that can be used to replace defunct equipment).
Cloud-based disaster recovery
Businesses that include cloud in their disaster recovery strategy can use their provider’s data center as a recovery site. The arrangement helps them save costs as they don’t have to invest in additional systems, personnel, and facilities. Opting for this arrangement will also provide your teams access to cutting-edge technology.
This arrangement is also known as disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). Some important factors to consider when opting for this disaster recovery plan include security and regulatory compliance, available bandwidth, and storage costs. Enquire whether your provider will offer their own products or use DRaaS tools by other vendors.
If your vendor plans to use another provider in their network, look into their products and capabilities. Learn everything there is to know about your provider, and find out more about its data center and operations support.
Virtualization disaster recovery
This approach to disaster recovery involves placing a virtual server on the cloud to eliminate the need for recreating a physical server after a disaster. Placing a virtual server can help businesses achieve recovery time objectives.
Disaster recovery plan steps
Collect information related to your IT assets
The first step in designing a disaster recovery strategy is creating an inventory of all the IT assets owned by the business. This helps untangle the complexities of the company’s IT environment. Make a list of assets including servers, storage devices, network switches and access points managed by your IT team. Identify the physical location of assets, their dependencies, if any, and the network they’re on.
Perform a risk assessment
After mapping your assets, evaluate the nature, scope, and extent of internal and external threats to them. Discuss what-if scenarios with your managers and how different events can impact business continuity.
Classify your data and applications
The next step involves classifying data and applications based on how critical they are to your processes. Categorizing data with similar characteristics into groups based on their criticality can simplify the task. When planning this exercise, encourage your IT managers to provide essential inputs.
Define your recovery objectives
When defining your recovery objectives, ask your managers to prepare a list of critical applications and data that their departments use, along with the tolerance for downtime and data loss for each application and data. Evaluate requirements regarding security and encryption, and ask them whether they would ever need to restore data that’s more than 90 days old.
When calculating recovery time objectives for an application, use this information to answer the most important question – how much revenue is lost if the application goes down for a particular length of time?
Identify the tools and processes required
The next step involves choosing the right tools and processes for data recovery. Opt for solutions that offer the right level of protection according to your needs. Use traditional backup methods for low-impact data and advanced tools (such as CDP solution( for high-impact data.
Irrespective of the data recovery method you use, invest in offsite protection. To ensure unavailability of IT staff does not slow down recovery, automate your recovery process.
Get your stakeholders to rally behind your plan
To get stakeholders on your side, involve them in the planning phase. Show them how your plan works and why it’s important. Once you’ve communicated the benefits of the plan, enlist an executive-level sponsor.
Document your plan
To ensure every employee knows what their role is after a disaster, put your plan on paper. Post and print the scheme in multiple locations throughout your workplace.
Practice your plan
Periodically conduct practice sessions. Make sure everyone with an important role to play participates in practice sessions. The exercise will help you identify scope for improvement.