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September 12, 2016
‘Disaster recovery’ has such a foreboding sound. People may love to see movies and TV shows featuring apocalyptic disasters, but they don’t enjoy considering it in their real lives. Real disasters are frightening, messy, and sometimes devastatingly expensive. ‘Business continuity’, on the other hand, sounds mild and unthreatening. Assuring that business is able to carry on, remain productive, and not miss any opportunities — that sounds outright pleasant in comparison to dealing with ‘disaster’.
Hence, many vendors are rebranding their products to ‘business continuity’ in lieu of the negative-sounding ‘disaster recovery’. Others are offered as both, often abbreviated as DR/BC products. However, there is a subtle difference in the two. Here’s how a good disaster recovery plan fits into your business continuity solution.
Defining Disaster Recovery
Broadly speaking, disaster recovery refers to the specific actions to take in order to restore operations following a catastrophic disaster. These plans usually address natural disasters, like floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes, but disaster recovery also addresses manmade disasters, like fires or acts of terror. In relation to IT, disaster recovery actions include tasks like restoring servers and computers from backups, provisioning LANs, etc. Disaster recovery usually involves the restoration of data, as well as the applications and systems used to access, utilize, store, and share that data.
Defining Business Continuity
Business continuity is defined as the processes and procedures that are established to make sure that essential functions are able to continue as a disaster unfolds, as well as after the damage is done. In addition to all that disaster recovery entails, business continuity covers the broad, comprehensive planning involved in long-term or ongoing challenges to the business. For instance, business continuity addresses non-disaster type scenarios, such as how to handle the loss of critical talent or experience when a valuable team member leaves, breakdowns in the supply chain, malware infestations and data breaches, etc.
Getting the DR/BC Plan You Need
Generally, your disaster recovery and/or business continuity plan kicks in when the situation progresses beyond what is covered in your incident response plan. Here are a few considerations for assuring that you’re getting everything you need for continuity of business services, as well as recovering from any disasters that may occur:
• Avoid one-size-fits-all type plans. These solutions must address your particular business, its systems, applications, users, etc. If the plan or service isn’t customized for your business, it won’t serve you if it’s ever needed.
• Don’t rely on backups alone. While the data backup is the backbone of a good DR/BC plan, it isn’t the sum total of it. Business continuity and disaster recovery involve assigning roles in the recovery process to your personnel, establishing a timeline for restoring operations and services, and includes documentation on how to get things done. Backups are merely copies of the data to be restored and do nothing toward making sure the restoration goes smoothly and results in success.
In order for the plan to serve your business when needed, it has to be regularly updated to reflect any changes to systems, applications, personnel, etc. Additionally, no plan will work well if it isn’t rehearsed. Have your disaster recovery team members study and prepare for potential situations so that they know their roles and understand their responsibilities when the time comes.
Do you ever wonder why all this is even necessary? Why don’t computers just do what they’re supposed to do, without all the planning and backups and reinforcements? You aren’t alone in asking this question. Fortunately, there are answers! Get your complimentary copy of Greg Hanna’s book ‘Computers Should Just Work!’ today.
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