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In the event of unanticipated incidents like cyber attacks, power outages, or natural disasters, an organization’s disaster recovery plan provides instructions on how to respond and resume work quickly.
Read on to know more about what is a disaster recovery plan.
Table of Contents
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A vital part of the business continuity plan, disaster recovery boosts cyber resilience and aids in rapid recovery from disruptions that could result in financial loss, dissatisfied customers, or brand damage.
With increasing cybercrime and security breaches, protecting IT business infrastructure is more crucial than ever.
A disaster recovery plan is a document organized by the type of disaster and location. It also explains the consistent actions to be taken before, during, and after natural or man-made disasters.
Why disaster recovery plan is important?
The impact of cyber-attacks, outages, system breakdown, or unplanned downtime on the business operation is critical, even more, when a hybrid multi-cloud environment is used.
Having a detailed and tested recovery plan is vital for:
- Rapid and smooth service restoration
- Training personnel for emergencies
- Minimizing the economic impact
- Limiting the magnitude of damage and disruption
- Minimizing interruptions of normal operations
- Establishing alternative operational means in advance
Types of Disaster Recovery Plans
The four main types of disaster recovery plans provide businesses with the choice that suits their needs.
Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery
A cloud-based approach can be used for file backup procedures and complete replication. In addition, it helps cut costs since the recovery site is the cloud provider’s data center than the business’ own facilities, systems, and personnel.
While cloud disaster recovery provides a cost-, time-, and space-efficient approach, maintaining the plan needs proper management.
The cloud security issues pertaining to the business’ backup and recovery must be addressed.
Data Center Disaster Recovery
The physical elements of a data center, including all its facilities and infrastructure, contribute to data center recovery.
An operational risk assessment analyzes critical factors like power systems, physical security, support personnel, fire suppression, HVAC, and utility providers.
However, these physical disaster recovery tools are useless in natural disasters or cyber-attacks.
Virtualization Disaster Recovery
Maintaining a virtualized environment avoids having to reconstruct a physical server. Using off-site virtual machines, organizations can back up their entire computing environment’s working replica or just certain data and operations. These aren’t affected by physical disasters.
A virtualized environment can create new virtual machine instances faster.
Placing a virtual server on reserve capacity or the cloud helps quickly achieve targeted recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO).
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
Cloud-based DRaaS has the provider moving the organization’s computer processing onto its own cloud infrastructure in the event of a disaster or ransomware attack. It enables seamless operations to continue from the vendor’s location even during the downtime of the organization’s servers.
Non-cloud-based DRaaS providers offer site-to-site service solutions by hosting and running a secondary hot site.
Steps Involved in a Disaster Recovery Plan
The basic steps of a disaster recovery plan include:
1) Inventory of Assets
The first step is to identify all of the organization’s assets to determine which will require protection. This includes owned or leased hardware, software, network equipment, and cloud services.
The assets need to be classified from high to low, based on which ones will significantly impact if compromised, damaged, or lost.
2) Risk Assessment
Analyzing the potential risks and business impact requires addressing several potential disasters.
Each functional area’s analysis determines all possible scenarios. In addition, infrastructure and geographical risk factors are also considered in risk analysis.
3) Recovery Timeline
The timeframes within which certain systems need to be operational and acceptable recovery goals define the recovery timeline.
The recovery objectives include:
Recovery Time Objectives (RTO): The maximum amount of downtime for the assets before recovery.
Recovery Point Objectives (RPO): The age of the files that must be recovered from data backup to resume normal operations. It is equivalent to the amount of data the organization can afford to lose.
4) Disaster Recovery Process
A disaster recovery plan must address the procedures for:
Emergency response: The appropriate emergency response in the event of a natural disaster, fire, or other such disasters, to protect lives and limit damages.
Backup operations: Ensures conduction of essential data processing operational tasks following the disruption.
Recovery actions: Facilitates rapid restoration of data processing systems after the disruption.
Additionally, a disaster recovery includes plans for a mobile site setup, communication disaster, and an electrical service diagram. It also has plans for an alternate hot (backup) site for temporary use.
5) Data Backup
The different backup options include cloud storage, vendor-supported, and internal off-site data backups. Applications and information that are critical to operations must be given priority.
Static and unchanging data needn’t be backed up more than once.
6) Test and Review
Regular testing and evaluation of the disaster recovery plan are essential. A disaster drill helps test the plan effectively. It helps to train the concerned teams and ensure that the backup procedures and facilities adopted by the organization are compatible and feasible.
Periodic reviews of the disaster recovery plan ensure its effectiveness. It must reflect changes in the assets, IT setup, and organizational structure.
IBM’s disaster recovery plan is a good template for developing an organization’s recovery plan.
Benefits of Disaster Recovery Planning
Apart from improved business continuity, a disaster recovery plan benefits an organization in the following ways:
The essential elements of disaster recovery include measures of:
Prevention: to reduce risks of manmade disasters
Detection: to quickly identify problems as they occur
Correction: to restore lost data and enable rapid resumption of operations.
These measures require regular maintenance of IT systems in optimal conditions, analyzing potential threats, and seeking innovative cybersecurity solutions.
Regular software updates, the use of innovative hardware, and adopting cloud-based data management minimize maintenance and backup costs.
Increased Personnel Productivity
Creating a disaster recovery team and assigning specific responsibilities and roles improves productivity and effectiveness in the organization. In addition, it ensures personnel redundancies for assigned tasks when at least two people are trained to handle the same task.
Failures and downtime resulting in loss of sensitive data results in unhappy clients. Disaster recovery planning helps organizations maintain a high quality of service at all times.
Assuring clients of adequate service by reducing downtime and data loss risks helps in effective retention.
Organizations seek innovative solutions to reduce the cost of disaster recovery, archive maintenance, and backups. Cloud-based solutions provide a flexible, scalable, and simplified disaster recovery process.
The additional benefits of disaster planning include reducing human error risks, eliminating redundant hardware, and streamlining the IT processes. Apart from the evident disaster recovery, the planning makes the business more profitable and resilient.
In this article, we discussed why a disaster recovery plan is important, especially during unanticipated incidents like cyber attacks, power outages, or natural disasters, to make sure you can resume the critical business operation workloads as quickly as possible.
To know how to auto-protect and replicate virtual machines to an alternative location for disaster recovery, read into Enable Azure Site Recovery (ASR) on VMs using Azure Policy.
For business continuity and disaster recovery drills, if you’d like to restore your Azure backup in a secondary region, read Automate Azure VMs Restore with Azure Backup.
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