You may have heard of business recovery or business continuity plans, or of the IT disaster recovery plan as mandatory forms of planning ahead for businesses everywhere. As more companies, businesses and institutions are becoming more and more reliant on information technology (IT) systems and the virtual environment, this reliance makes them both more potent and more vulnerable. While computer use has dramatically enhanced the productivity of businesses everywhere, especially as computers themselves have become more and more powerful over the years, this reliance on IT systems also means that minor disasters can lead to major halts in activity. Lack of access to IT systems, or, even more dramatically, a permanent loss of data due to a disruptive event can mean the termination of all activity for many businesses, organizations and institutions alike.
That is why procedures and back-up plans such as the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and the IT Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) are crucial forms of insurance for any organization, company or business, no matter how large or small. We will walk you through everything you need to know about the difference between a BCP and a DRP, as well as how to start planning in order to outline the recovery plans your company should have and develop them in no time.
1. What Exactly Is an IT Disaster Recovery Plan and Business Continuity in General?
Many people who are just starting to hear of an IT disaster recovery plan or backup procedures for disaster recovery think all the terms involved are more or less referring to the same thing. In order to help your understanding of these terms and the difference between them better, first we should define them. According to its official definition, a Business Continuity Plan is the wider aspect of this type of insuring process, containing all the backup plans for the management and restoration of the types of activity necessary for the functioning of a business or organization, from manufacturing to quality control and so on. These components may include a Business Resumption Plan, an Incident Management Plan and so on; in short, everything which the organization may need for its post-disaster reconstruction and the resuming of its activity.
For example, a hospital will of course rely on computer systems for managing their patient database and documentation, but they will also need to manage the disruptive event, get supplies delivered to vulnerable patients in due time, restore the entire area’s security and so on. All institutions and organizations dealing with human lives (basically any company whose employees work in an office) will have first and foremost the concern and responsibility of dealing with their living assets (the human resources) and only then handle the IT system and activate its disaster contingency management plan, the network recovery protocol and so on.
This means that out of all the aspects of a BCP, the IT Disaster Recovery Plan is only a small part of the entire planning involved, and refers strictly to the recovery of technology, as opposed to the whole of BCP who deals with the recovery of business operations. Some online resources propose a debate regarding the use of a BCP vs. the use of an IT disaster recovery plan, but it is an issue falsely put, since the latter is just a smaller part of the first.
2. Developing an IT Disaster Recovery Plan Template for Your (Small) Business
According to official data provided by FEMA and by the Disaster Recovery Institute, the businesses and organizations which have developed a proper IT Disaster Recovery Plan have survived unfortunate events much easier than the ones who postponed it. These disasters which can strike may not even be news-worthy, but prove to be quite fatal to your business, and therefore they prove to fully merit the name of disasters. A natural disruptive event like a small flood or a power strike at precisely the wrong moment can have fatal consequences for your server or servers, for your highly specialized software, or even for your physical technology infrastructure.
Since all businesses and organizations are unique, you need to come up with your own personal plan of insuring your company against the occurrence of disruptive events. A personalized IT Disaster Recovery Plan can be better developed with the help of professionals who offer the recovery service itself, but you can also take a look at various free samples found online in order to get a better idea of how most templates for an IT DRP look like. As far as a good DRP sample goes, we like this template best, but you can find similar examples online, in various formats (Word document or PDF). Don’t worry, all the steps are explained as if for dummies, so going through them will be quite simple.
3. Getting Help from a Disaster Recovery Company
After you get a better idea of what an IT disaster recovery plan is supposed to be, it’s time to start creating it. Your end purpose should be to write a main doc which will then be integrated as part of the company’s policy, and applied to every step of your company’s backup actions. It’s easier to save up on data if you make frequent saves and so on; the same principle applies here, only for the much wider scale and purpose of macro IT disaster recovery. After you finish writing this document which, for the most part, will highlight your company’s priorities and things which are most crucial to protect, you will then show it to the service firm that will handle your disaster recovery and backup.
Usually, such companies provide more than just server backup on their info center and the protection this ensues, but they will explain more in the walkthrough you will schedule. The main vulnerabilities of your IT system and technological operations will be identified, and you will create together a checklist of simple steps for your IT disaster recovery plan. Then, you will probably also proceed with the application of a test that will identify how your system will react in case of a threat, so you can protect it further.
Some suggestions of services you can start looking into are these:
- VMWare disaster recovery;
- Oracle’s IT disaster recovery plan;
- Dilbert disaster recovery;
- SharePoint Disaster Recovery (developed by Microsoft);
- SQL disaster recovery.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to check out the Department of Homeland Security’s own guide on creating an IT disaster recovery plan.