23 Jun 2016

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Strategy

Here are some important facts to be aware of when creating a disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity plan (BCP) for your business.

Data backup isn’t disaster recovery.

While data backup is an important facet of any disaster recovery (DR) strategy, the two are not interchangeable. DR replicates data and technology functions in real time to an offsite location, and will enable a firm to restore operations to an offsite location immediately; preventing interruptions to the workday if an event renders the primary work site unusable. In contrast, data backup is a copy of a company’s data files that are made by taking routine snapshots either once daily or overnight, to a physical tape located onsite or to a virtual tape library offsite.

Data backup can take a long time to recover.

Just because an organization’s data is backed up doesn’t mean it will be available immediately. Piecing the data back together and reinstalling it on new servers can take several days or even weeks. Data backup software can often fail altogether. Disaster recovery, on the other hand, creates a full image of disk drives and servers, and can potentially restore and install virtual servers quickly, often within minutes to hours depending on the specific plan and systems in place.

Disaster doesn’t have to mean a major event.

Many organizations feel comfortable using simple data backup as their DR strategy because they think that the likeliness of a major event, such as a weather-related natural disaster or a human-induced threat such as a cyber-attack, is unlikely. However, a disaster can mean any event that prevents employees from working adequately in their primary location, and can include network outages, equipment failures, and human-related errors.

Design backup and DR strategies independently.

For organizations to design the most efficient backup and DR strategies, they should determine the correct information they plan to include in their backups. Another critical step is employee training, and firms should make sure that the properly-trained individuals are managing data backup functions as well as DR functions, and that they understand the purpose each function plays within the firm. This training will minimize human error and keep systems optimized for when information does need to be retrieved. Additionally, firms must make sure that data backup is part of a larger DR strategy, and that a reliable disaster recovery system is in place for their most critical business operations.

Data backup is still a key component of any DR strategy.

While they are not the same, data backup is still a key component to disaster recovery and should be utilized. Organizations, especially those within the financial industry, are required by law to back up all of their data in order to be compliant with the specific regulations. Data backup is helpful in instances where deleted emails need to be recovered, past employee communications need to be explored, or other previously deleted information needs to be retrieved.

Business continuity plans specifically pertain to the human-related aspect of a crisis plan.

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document describing the policies, procedures, and actions that will help restore vital business functions during a disaster or crisis; specifically, the steps employees must take to in order to keep business operations running smoothly. A variety of elements can be contained within a business continuity plan and include preventative, detective, and corrective measures. These measures can be focused on issues such as data protection, employee training, and the order in which servers should be restored.

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