Disaster Recovery Planning

Imagine an earthquake brings down all the power lines surrounding your business, and now you must figure out how to operate without power for an unknown amount of time. What would you do? Or, maybe right after launching new software your main server gets overloaded and crashes. How would you respond? Maybe neither of these scenarios seem realistic to you, but every business is susceptible to some type of disaster. Knowing how to respond when the worst happens is the best way to prevent revenue crushing downtime. In IT terms, this is called disaster recovery planning, or the method an organization uses to anticipate and address technology-related disasters. Disaster recovery planning is all part of ensuring you have stable business continuity, or the ability to function after an emergency or disruption.

You might think that with the increase in remote work and cloud-based IT, disaster recovery planning is less important than it used to be. However, the change in work environment and IT infrastructure has actually introduced more complexity and new risks. Protecting your business from these new threats is more critical than ever.

The purpose of a disaster recovery plan (DRP) is threefold. First, your plan should include preventative measures, like how/when you schedule backups, as an example. Your plan should also be detective and detail how you will monitor your IT so that you know when a response is necessary. Lastly, your DRP should be corrective. It should document exactly what you will do in a variety of scenarios, so that should a disaster occur, a quick execution of the DRP will dramatically reduce downtime.

Specifically, a DRP should include:

  • Recovery time objective (RTO)
  • Recovery point objective (RPO)
  • Personnel involved and their roles
  • Inventories of equipment, hardware, software, networks, and systems
  • Data backup and recovery procedures
  • Steps to restore and recover systems

Your managed services provider should take the lead on ensuring you are prepared for any disaster. If you currently do not have a DRP, work with an MSP on creating this critical component of business continuity. Specify with the MSP the technologies and types of disaster recovery solutions they offer. Common offerings include data center DR, network DR, disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), cloud-based DR, and virtualized DR.

Of equal importance, if you do have a DRP but have not reviewed or revised it in a while, take the time to meet with your provider to make sure your plan still makes sense and leverages the latest technologies. No one wants or expects a disaster to happen. But if you value your customers, your data, and your reputation, then having a plan in place will help your business stay competitive in the long run.