Disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) plans are often mistaken as the same thing. They are, however, two different but necessary plans that keep your business running in the event of an emergency.
The difference between a disaster recovery plan, and a business continuity plan
While making a move to the cloud can address both BC and DR, it is essential to know the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity when completing a plan or strategy for your organisation.
What is Disaster recovery (DR)
DR refers to what happens in the event of data loss, or the ability to restore your organisation's data in the event of a disaster. A disaster could mean your servers or infrastructure getting destroyed or damaged by a fire, flood or malicious attack. The key to a good DR plan is how quickly you can restore your data.
What is Business Continuity (BC)
BC refers to your plan or strategy that takes place in the event of a significant disruption, whether caused by a fire, flood or by cybercriminal activity. This plan outlines how your business continues to do what it does with minimum downtime.
What should you include in your plans?
In both plans, you need to determine what your business needs to operate, and how you are going to protect your number one asset – your organisation's data. The best way to do this is to list all of your organisation processes/applications/data and prioritise them to 1 – X (1 being the most critical process, X being the least). Once you complete this, you can then work out how long your business can survive without these processes/applications/data for, whether that be one day, a week or a month.
What to include in your disaster recovery (DR) plan?
When thinking of what to include in your DR plan in you need to put your self in the mindset of how your business would act in the aftermath of a major disaster such as a flood, fire or a terrorist attack.
Here are some of the items you may want to include in yours
Having your backup data stored in a separate location to where your live data sits is critical. If your building or data centre was to be affected by an earthquake you do not want your backup in the same place. You need to ensure that the data of the backup is easily accessible so that the data can be restored quickly, once you find a new data centre.
Having your backups in the cloud and replicating your data to multiple data centres can help with this. If you are still backing up with tapes, you may want to consider renting a bank vault locker to ensure your tapes are in a safe location (remember this is your organisation in the event of a disaster).
In this part, you also need to consider non-digital data like filing cabinets.
Keep your backups on a device separate to your network, make the password super secure and document it. This is gold in the event of a disaster such as a malicious attack by a cybercriminal.
Where would your employees work in the event of a disaster? Having a backup office is something you should add to your disaster recovery plan. Have a chat a few of your partners and see if they would be able to host your business in the event of a disaster. Or, speak to Evolve IT about their ability to keep office space reserved for your key staff, in case it’s ever needed.
If your infrastructure is not in the cloud, consider where you are going to restore your data. Having an option to rent infrastructure or a backup cloud option is a great place to start.
The other thing you need consider how your staff are going to work, do they need phones, computers or internet and what measure you need to take to ensure your data is secure. An example of this is that you do not want your staff working on your company's data on an unsure WIFI connection.
In your DR plan, you need to have some idea of how long it is going to take to get your organisation to back online.
When choosing a backup plan, determine a balance between cost and time. An example of this is:
- Having your organisation's equipment replicated across multiple data centres, being able to be back up and working in minutes
- A tape backup solution that has your organisation back up and working within days or weeks.
Somewhere in between these two solutions is ideal for a nonprofit, community or SME organisation.
What to include in your business continuity (BC) plan?
A BC gets into much more detail. It covers the smallest things that might threaten the existence if your organisation. All nonprofits, community and SME’s should have a BC plan.
To give yourself the best chance in the event of a disaster your business needs to communicate, operate and recover. A business continuity plan outlines the business processes and instructions that your organisation follows in the event of a disaster. Here are a few things you may want to consider including in your plan:
Similar to a DR plan. You need to consider how you are going to work in the event of a disaster. How are you going to access your data? You may want to add the following to this section
- Where is your data replicated to?
- How can you access the data?
- Who restores that data?
- Do you have a backup office?
- Do you failover automatically, or what needs to happen to failover?
The key to this section is, how does your organisation continue to operate as if the disaster has never happened.
What happens if one of your key team members is not able to continue working for your company? Having a succession plan in place, that means someone can step in that role with minimum impact. Yes, this even includes the business owner.
How You Educate
Your staff will need to know what to do in the event of an emergency. Provide extra training for managers so that they can step in if someone is unavailable.
Include where your staff need to meet, how they are going to work and how they need to communicate.
How often you practice
Make sure add how often you are going to practice your BC plan
Although in Victoria, Australia, we do not have the threats of hurricanes and tropical storms. We do have threats of heat and intense weather that can cause power outages and force offices to be inaccessible. How is your business going to operate in the event of a disaster?
HOW EVOLVE IT CAN HELP?
We take great pride in partnering with organisations. Our team specialises in developing customised solutions to help you get the most out of your technology.