In case of a natural or human-induced disaster striking an area, the fast recovery from the unfortunate event is a priority for everyone. The recovery must optimally be realized with as little human and financial costs possible so that the area can resume its previous state and even be better prepared and less vulnerable to similar future events. So, what is disaster recovery as officially defined and provided by various services and organizations? There are two main sides to this recovery: the humanitarian part, referring to people and communities and which is usually known as disaster relief, and the part focusing on ensuring the survival and continuity of a business, usually known as disaster recovery.
Sometimes, the two terms are used interchangeably, since they aren’t that different in meaning, but for the sake of differentiating between the two types of disaster management services, a great part of the world has started respecting this distinction between disaster relief and disaster recovery. Our present article will focus on clarifying the disaster recovery aspect for businesses, and also, address some FAQs about disaster recovery along the way.
What is Disaster Recovery?
Disaster recovery can be defined as a set of procedures and policies set in place in order to ensure the continuance of infrastructure (and/ or of business activity) in the aftermath of disruptive events. The more the world came to rely on technological infrastructure, the more we started to realize how vulnerable we would be left in case this infrastructure failed, and since the 70s, disaster recovery systems have been specifically created to assist with this issue.
Since disaster recovery focuses first and foremost on ensuring the restoration of IT and technological infrastructure and data, it represents only a subset of the more general business continuity systems. These comprise of a vaster array of policies which ensure other aspects required for an activity to be resumed (finding alternate office space, financial recovery from damages and so on).
As businesses started realizing their huge dependence on IT technologies (and especially since internet speed and real-time response became an integrative part of almost any business), services which offer disaster management and recovery have become more and more popular and needed. So, what is disaster recovery from this point of view, of commercial services marketed and offered to IT-reliant businesses? Usually, all service providers specializing in disaster recovery for businesses offer this:
- Full cloud storage and online backup for your business information, data, sensitive data like login details and company track records etc.;
- An initial evaluation of the risk your business faces in case of disaster and tips on how to minimize that risk;
- A disaster recovery plan to be activated in the wake of a disruptive event, prescribing the client (the business trying to protect itself from disaster) the steps to follow for continued functionality and on to a full recovery;
- The availability of limited office space and computer systems to allow the affected business to resume its activity at least partially until their workspace is restored;
- A cyber security diagnostic in case the disaster was not caused by a natural event (like an earthquake or a tornado and so on), but by a specific cyber-attack which led to a potentially dangerous breach;
- Various service packs offering increasing levels of assistance with the aftermath of the disruptive event.
Disaster Recovery FAQs
1. What Is Disaster Recovery for Businesses Beyond the Backup Service?
Initially, disaster recovery service providers focused mostly on cloud storage backup, but today’s service packs offer much more than that. First, they diagnose the specifics of the business that is trying to protect itself from disaster, then they formulate some options and service packs adapted to suit the needs of that business. This can include everything IT-related, like ensuring a preservation of layers of access according to the company’s hierarchy and so on, but also non-IT services. Such non-IT services can include the provision of office space and minimal infrastructure required for the business to get back into work, even if for the time being the company is still dealing with the aftermath of disaster and its actual office space and work environment and compromised.
2. What Other Aspects of Disaster Recovery Should I Consider as a Business Leader?
You should consider disaster recovery beyond the simple aspects of cloud storage, as well as depending on the specifics of the business you are running. After all, what is disaster recovery if not a tailored approach meant to get your company back in business as soon as possible? A few general ideas useful to all businesses would be these: increasing the security and diminishing the risk of data loss, protecting both your physical and virtual assets with the help of comprehensive insurance, and creating reliable procedures for getting back on track as fast as possible.
3. What Is Disaster Recovery as Business Continuation and What Services Should I Look Into?
As mentioned above, disaster recovery confined to IT and cloud backup is but a small aspect of protecting your company and ensuring your business continuation. This second concept is a more loosely defined set of services and measures, impossible to pin down because the nature of each business can be drastically different and, therefore, the business continuation plan must be adapted to each individual case. There are usually three levels of a sound business continuation plan:
- Resilience: the purpose of these measures is to minimize the damage and ensure that the business activity can continue up to a certain point in spite of the disruptive event;
- Recovery: the purpose of these procedures is to ensure a fast recovery of the degree of functionality lost in the disaster and bring the activity back to full capacity;
- Contingency: Ensuring that the people and the infrastructure of the business become more flexible and able to cope with unforeseen aspects of whatever disruptions and disasters may come. This third layer of measures and procedures is meant first and foremost to deal with the potential inadequacy of the first two (the resilience and recovery plans and measures). To increase the effectiveness of contingency, this part of the business continuation strategy must also include the thorough testing of the other parts of the plan.
What Can You Do Yourself For a Better Disaster Recovery?
First of all, as a business owner or leader you should try to familiarize yourself as much as possible with the actual risks you are facing in case of the various types of disasters which can strike your business. Identify your potential losses and this way you will know exactly what your protection priorities should be. If you’re not sure how to identify security risks yourself, don’t worry: it’s quite common to enlist the services of a disaster recovery consultant in this stage of planning.
The bottom line is to start asking yourself not simply ‘what is disaster recovery?’, but increasingly ‘what should my business recovery plan contain?’ Consultants from the recovery service provider you will hire can only help you with the technical details you may not be aware of, but only you can intimately know the priorities and vital functions of your business, so you are in the end the most qualified planner for your business continuity.