Dec 08, 2020 Admin

IT Consulting

A 10-Step Guide For Building A Reliable IT Disaster Recovery Plan

When people read disaster recovery, they immediately think of big natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, or wildfire. However, in the world of IT, disasters are often a result of human-made errors causing system failure, data loss, or network overload. Such IT disasters harm a business reputation greatly and threaten routine operations. Despite this, many businesses don’t consider business continuity and disaster recovery crucial in their business because they haven’t faced a catastrophe earlier. Failing to establish a solid IT disaster recovery plan can hamper your business productivity significantly. If you lack expertise and specialized resources, it’s better to work with an IT consultation services provider specializing in disaster recovery planning and cyber security. Besides that, you need to have a solid understanding of what is an IT disaster recovery plan, how to create one, and whom to involve in this process.

To help you get started with IT disaster recovery planning, this guide will provide a detailed, step-by-step explanation of how to build your own bullet-proof IT disaster recovery plan. Read on: 

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan? 

A disaster recovery plan is simply a blueprint or roadmap that helps an organization to prepare and recover from damages and disruptions in its IT operations. It works as a guiding document that outlines the key recovery tools and procedures that should be followed by the company to minimize server/system downtime and get back critical systems online for smooth operations. 

The important point of note here is that the term” disaster” in disaster recovery(DR) planning could be anything that disrupts routine IT workflows. Events like power outages, corrupted data files, DDoS attacks, server failure, or even natural disasters fall under this category. The goal of a DR plan is to overcome IT disasters and reinitiate daily operations. 

Key Elements of a Disaster Recovery Plan

Key Elements of a Disaster Recovery Plan

Some of the key elements of an IT disaster recovery plan include, but not limited to: 

Business Goals: What the organization aims to achieve during a disaster, including the maximum acceptable amount of data loss, recovery time objective (RTO), maximum downtime for critical systems, recovery point objectives (RPO), and so on. RPO is a measure of how much data would be lost during recovery whereas RTO denotes the estimated recovery time needed for resuming routine operations.

Personnel Involved: Who will be responsible for managing and executing the DR plan. 

Backup: Things like how and where (including what devices and what folders) the data resources will be backed up and how to recover that data are mentioned here.

Disaster recovery measures: It includes emergency procedures for limiting loss during a disaster, last-minute backup action, and eradication steps for cyber security threats. 

Restoration: Procedures like how to fully recover and how to initiate routine operations post-disaster are documented here. 

IT Inventory: Details of company hardware and software assets, their criticality, leasing status, etc. are written at this point. 

DR plan testing: Pretesting steps for DR plans are documented here to ensure RTOs and RPOs are achievable in case of actual emergencies. 

Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity

Business continuity planning is not an uncommon term when you discuss disaster recovery scenarios. Business continuity planning is nothing but keeping operations running despite emergencies. For example, remote work measures have been implemented by my companies during COVID-19 for ensuring the business continues. So, in general,  business continuity planning is more resource-intensive than a DR plan.

For example, a DR plan might highlight the need for data backup servers to store copies of business-critical data. But, on the other side, a BR plan will require you to have the entire backup production environment ready to mirror the actual data into backup servers. 

BR calls for specific threat management measures for safeguarding your IT infrastructure and preventing potential disasters in the first place. Hence, when you think of a complete BC/DR plan, you need to put more investment to keep you well covered. 

10 Step of Disaster Recovery Planning You Should Emphasize On: 

Step 1: Analyze All Your IT Assets 

Perform a robust IT assessment of all your critical assets, including networking equipment, software, hardware, and most importantly your data. Note down the physical/virtual location of each element, how they’re related, what vendors offered them, and how they perform. Once you have an inventory created for all your critical IT resources - and what data each resource holds - you can streamline things better for backup and recovery. 

Step 2: Identify “Business-Critical” Systems 

Once you’ve your IT inventory sorted, analyze each resource critically to check how important it is for your business. Based on the analysis, categorize them into high, medium, and low impact categories and how they’ll disrupt your routine operations. You can also take data backups from every resource by copying it to the backup server. Filter out the redundant data to reduce the backup file size for saving storage space. 

Step 3: Clarify DR Team Roles and Responsibilities 

Sort out the duties and key assignments of every member of your DR team. For example, what action will be taken by a particular team during a cyber security threat. Everyone on the emergency team should know their response to specific threats or technology security loopholes. 

Step 4: Perform Risk Assessment 

After defining DR roles, think about the possible threats your business can face. Interview the in-house staffs to know the already hanging threats and scenarios that most likely cause service disruption. Map out every possible threat in the risk assessment chart for creating a response strategy. 

Step 5:  Outline Recovery Objectives 

You need to identify how quickly your business can recover from a disaster. How much effort is needed and the amount of data you can afford to lose in case of disaster. Set up your RTO and RPO goals after consulting with senior management about the impact of interruption of every critical system for one minute, one hour, one day, or more. Think about how to back up your mission-critical data - such as financial and regulatory compliance data. Set up clear goals for every emergency scenario for a well-organized and coordinated response. 

Step 6: Setup the Overall Budget  

Disaster recovery is crucial for your business, but you need to think of your budget as well and spend wisely. Provide several options in front of your management for cost optimization. Present several options with an increasing price tag but better RTO/RPO or support. Analyze every option carefully and choose the one that suits your business best. 

Step 7: Merge DR and BC 

Disaster recovery planning is one part of the equation when we talk about emergencies in the IT space. Business continuity is the remaining part of the equation you need to sail through the catastrophe. Always focus on combining BC and DR when preparing a response against unexpected events. Get services from enterprise software development companies specializing in business continuity and disaster recovery planning. 

Step 8: Test your Recovery Plan 

Testing your disaster recovery plan once a year is essential to check its effectiveness in real-life scenarios. Conduct a realistic-looking disaster drill, and see how your plan works for metrics like RPO, RTO, single-point failure, and so on. Was it good enough to extend a coordinated response? Does all DR teamwork in tandem for minimizing the disaster impact on routine operations? Such a periodic review conducted annually or bi-annually will help you identify plan loopholes and improve upon them.

Step 9:  Prefer Cloud for Data BackUp 

This is the golden advice you can follow to take your DR planning to the next level. When you store mission-critical data into physical storage devices, the threat of physical device damage due to fire, physical tampering, etc. is always high. You can avoid this by storing your important business information in cloud-based solutions. Take assistance of an expert cloud computing consulting services provider to ease out this task. It ensures business continuity even in critical scenarios. You can take data backups anytime, anywhere, and save your valuable time. It’s also cost-effective in the long-run with better security. 

Step10: Find an Ideal Disaster Recovery Partner

Disaster recovery planning is not just a one-time initiative where you set and forget. It requires consistent monitoring, maintenance, and up-gradation to stay prepared every time emergency strikes. You need to consistently work with new safety procedures, technologies, and equipment for better results. Leveraging the expertise of an outsourced partner to plan your DR strategy is always a good option. They guide you at every step about how to create a resilient DR plan that works for your business. 

Are you also looking to set up a disaster recovery solution for making your business more resilient, then look no beyond A3logics - the global leader in IT consulting services. Our IT consultants have a decade-long experience in delivering disaster recovery solutions for our clients across diverse industries, including healthcare, transportation, e-commerce, and others. Drop us a line to know more about our disaster recovery consulting services. 

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