Disaster recovery planning 101 – Data and business continuity
Protecting data against disaster isn’t enough. Things happen. The laws of Murphy could be rallying against your data as we speak and there might be nothing you can do to stop them. So what if they do happen?
Don’t get caught with your pants down. Backups are great, but what happens when the unthinkable occurs and now you need to access those backups? Can you answer the question “if we lost our data, how would we recover it?” Time is money, so business continuity is essential. Do you have a disaster recovery plan to cover you?
Here are a few essential points to remember in planning your DRP:
Objectives and Responsibilities
Your disaster recovery plan should be comprehensive; it covers all of the procedures to be taken before, during and after a disastrous event. This includes disaster scenarios, recovery strategies, implementation, process documentation, governance, and budgeting.
In short, focus on risks that are relevant to your business and create a prioritised list of critical systems and how they will be recovered. In the event of a disaster, the list will be rolled out from the top to make sure you are up and running as quickly as possible.
The disaster recovery plan needs to be championed by someone. Assign a manager who can take responsibility – but preferably one who understands how your IT operations and data fit together. Remember – your DRP contains defined objectives that need to be met like any other project.
Backups and Recovery
There are usually a number of different ways that backups are done and within an organisation. This influences how they will be recovered and how quickly.
So the first question is: what data are you using on a day-to-day basis and how is it being backed up? Backup dumps that are done online on a daily, weekly or monthly basis are useful for compliance and recovery of small amounts of non-sensitive data. Larger quantities and sensitive data are often stored on offsite tape backups. (If you don’t already, a combination of both of these types of backups is usually a good practice.)
Factored in to your DRP is how these types of backups recovered and how quickly they can be recovered. Online data is usually easily accessible and fairly simple to recover in small amounts. Offsite backups can take time to restore, so be sure to choose a provider that offers fast and efficient restoration.
Business Continuity Plan
So far we’ve looked at responsibility assignment and recovering backups which will restore your systems and data, but while recovery is taking place, your organisation still needs to function.
Added a business continuity plan into your disaster recovery plan can address many areas of business functioning that exist outside of the DRP. For example, communication needs to be planned to ensure your staff knows what to do while the disaster is being corrected.