Your Step-By-Step Disaster Recovery Plan

Your Step-By-Step Disaster Recovery Plan

Does your organization have a disaster recovery plan? The demands of modern business are changing as cloud technologies create new parameters for delivering business services. Today’s business environment has never been more competitive and organizations that mitigate downtime, have plans in place to quickly restore operations and know how to save valuable data are leading the way.

“Cloud is about how you do computing, not where you do computing.” – Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware

The growing popularity of virtualization is changing the way enterprise managers deliver IT services. Organizations worldwide are reducing the need for burdensome equipment and choosing cloud-based infrastructures instead. According to Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, “The worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow 18 percent in 2017.” While the growth in cloud technology has brought a variety of changes for enterprise managers, designing a disaster recovery plan is among the most significant.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

A well-designed disaster recovery plan has never been more critical in modern business. The growing rate of cyberattacks continues to plague organizations all over the world as businesses spend billions each year to prevent it. In fact, global cybersecurity spending is expected to exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021 according to Gartner. Even natural disasters, power outages and fire have the potential to destroy organizations incapable of resuming operations when these events occur. In today’s business environment, an effective disaster recovery plan must be in place to minimize costly disruptions, stay competitive and maximize profits.

There certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all disaster recovery plan and each organization must determine its priorities when creating one. However, most plans will include procedures for preventing, detecting and correcting disasters when they occur. The main purpose of a disaster recovery plan is to mitigate downtime and the loss of valuable data. This can be measured in both recovery time and recovery points. If you’re looking for a better way to mitigate costly disruptions for your organization, enjoy this step-by-step guide to creating an effective disaster recovery plan.

Identify Mission-Critical Business Processes

Identifying mission-critical processes and the capabilities of your virtualized system is the first stage of designing a disaster recovery plan. Ultimately, the processes to be deemed necessary should be at the core of your organization’s operations and create the most havoc without them running. This assessment should be applied to all vital applications. The idea is to determine how long your organization is capable of surviving without its critical processes to define the recovery time requirements.

Conduct a Business Impact Analysis

Once you’ve identified your critical processes, conduct a business impact analysis (BIA.) Conducting a BIA allows you to determine the cost of your downtime. This can include lost opportunities, lost sales, reduced customer satisfaction, time spent restoring data, and time spent restoring operations. It’s important to get this step right as it will guide decisions like budget and the allocation of funds moving forward. This will also determine recovery point objectives (RPO,) recovery time objectives (RTO) and maximum tolerable downtime (MTD.)

  • RPO is the timeframe in which data must be recovered from backup storage to resume operations. RPO helps cloud administrators identify the amount of data they can afford to lose and the last point in time a full replication was made.
  • RTO is the amount of time and level of service a business process requires for full restoration after a disruption. RTO helps cloud administrators determine the maximum time in which a full restoration must be made.
  • MTD is the maximum length of time your mission-critical business processes can be offline before irreversible damage occurs. This measure helps cloud administrators create restoration procedures for minimizing irreversible damage.

Conduct a Risk Assessment

A successful disaster recovery plan requires a keen awareness of all the possible risks that can occur at each point of failure and the likelihood of it happening. Risks include cyberattacks, natural disasters and man-made disasters. When conducting a risk assessment, utilize a variety of sources like:

  • Company records of disruption
  • Employee accounts of disruption
  • Media content (local and national)
  • National Weather Service data
  • FEMA records
  • Cybersecurity reports

Develop a Risk Management Strategy

The purpose of this step is to ensure your disaster recovery plan will mitigate the damage from a variety of risks. Make sure to consider not only a strategy to resume operations, but also a preventative strategy to mitigate the likelihood of it ever happening. This can include a combination of improving cybersecurity practices, operating a virtualized infrastructure and disaster-proofing the building where mission-critical equipment is stored. Make sure you include RPO, RTO and MTD measures when considering risk management strategies to ensure your recovery strategy aligns with the parameters of your virtualized system. Lastly, draft step-by-step instructions explaining how IT practitioners respond to disruptions, recover data and resume operations.

Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Practice makes perfect. Once you’ve identified mission-critical business processes, conducted a business impact analysis, conducted a risk assessment, and developed a risk management strategy, it’s time to test your disaster recovery plan. Testing ensures your disaster recovery plan is configured to meet business objectives when calamity strikes. Planned power outages and white hat hacking scenarios can test the effectiveness of your disaster recovery plan, while providing an opportunity to make corrections before it happens for real.

Summing It UP

In modern business, recovery times are being measured in seconds as organizations continue to improve their disaster recovery plans. Ensuring the production environment never skips a beat is essential to maintaining a competitive edge and profitability. Most importantly, understanding the parameters of your virtualized system and the requirements to resume operations once a disaster strikes is key to creating an effective disaster recovery plan.

Tom Hurst has been working in the information technology industry since 2008, and is currently writing engaging and informative articles about his experiences. Hurst also enjoys a life outside of IT that includes hunting, fishing and music composition.

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