Does your business have a disaster recovery plan in place? What about a business continuity plan?
At first glance, it might seem like these two terms are interchangeable. While they do overlap in certain key areas – they both involve processes designed to recover from catastrophic data loss – the two terms do have important differences.
This does not mean that one is "better" than the other. It would be more accurate to say that both these terms refer to complementary strategies for keeping your doors open while undergoing damage control. They are not mutually exclusive, but actually work together to ensure your company succeeds.
The main difference between disaster recovery and business continuity is one of orientation. IT disaster recovery is systems-oriented, while business continuity is business-oriented.
- IT Disaster Recovery provides for multiple redundant copies of an organization's data to be securely stored and easily accessible in the event of a data disaster.
- Business Continuity concerns the planning and deployment of infrastructural resources to facilitate data recovery.
Essentially, while both address procedures for disaster response, each covers features that the other does not. Having mutually beneficial, compatible plans from both angles is the surest method to escaping from data disasters unharmed.
Complementary Processes Encourage IT Disaster Recovery
Complementary processes are the key to developing and implementing a business disaster recovery plan that is comprehensive enough to provide protection against today's most dangerous threats. This means planning for multiple contingencies and empowering individuals to make key decisions even when communication is compromised.
To understand why these two terms exist as distinct elements of the disaster recovery process, imagine a disaster scenario renders an entire department unusable. The IT disaster recovery plan will provide a plan for getting that department's data back online, while the business continuity plan will provide support and funding for each of the department's employees to continue working.
With synergistic recovery plans in place, business can continue as usual even in disaster situations. Employees will already know how to obtain the data they need to perform business-critical functions and will be able to make decisions about which non-critical functions they can drop.
At the same time, business continuity requires that the IT disaster recovery plan provide for as immediate a solution as possible. If your business shuts down for several weeks while employees recover multiple terabytes of data manually, downtime costs will be enormous – both in terms of employee salaries and lost income.
On the other hand, if your business continuity plan provides for income to continue despite disaster, you have a mechanism for continuing your business even while it reconstructs its missing components. This requires planning ahead for multiple contingencies and implementing industry-best security technology like Datto.
Establishing Concurrent Plans
When your business establishes comprehensive plans for the recovery of data and the continuity of everyday processes, you are fully prepared for anything that could come your way. Your IT disaster recovery plan and business continuity plan should cover the following items:
- Roles and Responsibilities. This includes contacts for important members of your business infrastructure that do not rely on business communication systems, which could be compromised in a disaster scenario.
- Disaster Probabilities. One of the first things you can do to prepare your business for disaster is rating individual disaster types by probability. Categorize disasters by whether they are natural or man-made, and whether they can be predicted or not.
- Geo-Redundant Data Backups. Identify where and how you will store your backup data. Geo-redundancy refers to the storage of business-critical data outside your physical office, in case a disaster compromises the entire location.
- A Plan for Reaching Out. Your business relies on users, partners and customers to operate. Beyond figuring out how to get your data back and processes running, you need to establish a procedure for demonstrating your plan to partners, customers, and stakeholders who may be nervous about the idea of continuing to do business with you.
- Disaster Recovery Time Objective. How long will it take you to become fully operational? Ready.gov suggests that you include time objectives in your business impact analysis, which should be included in your response plan.
- Update Procedures. Too few organizations implement IT disaster recovery plans that allow for updates. Any major software update or change to your IT infrastructure can hugely affect the viability of your disaster response plan both from an IT and a business continuity angle.
When considering the implementation of a disaster recovery plan, keep a close eye on your priorities. You will have to come to terms with the fact that you may not be able to save everything. The realities of resource availability and technical infrastructure mean you have to place greater priority on your proprietary information and on maintaining your existing workflows so you can stay in business.Are you properly prepared to handle an abrupt data disaster? Talk to a specialist about IT disaster recovery and business continuity today.