The Ping: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning 101

Disaster Recovery – what does it mean to your business? Heck, what does it even mean in general, and do you have to do something about it?

One of the more popular business-critical terms you might have heard before is Disaster Recovery (DR). The term Disaster Recovery first started floating around business communities in the 1970’s when organizations began to realize their dependence on computer systems and technology could potentially be harmful to their viability if they didn’t have a plan to address a system outage. So, what exactly does DR mean and how critical is it in the modern business? Let’s break down the terms.

Disaster recovery vs. Business continuity

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans are similar in principle but quite different in practice. Business Continuity (BC) is a plan that identifies how to maintain business functionality during and after a disaster. Disaster Recovery (DR) is a sub-plan of your Business Continuity Plan that focuses on restoring IT services and data after the disruptive event begins and loss is confirmed.

What is a Disaster?

In a modern business, a disaster is any unforeseen event that can significantly put your organization at risk by interfering with your day-to-day operations. The definition of a disaster is up to you; disruptive events can take many forms. They can be natural, like hurricane Harvey, or man-made, such as a backhoe cutting through the internet line that keeps your business connected to the world. Not every disruptive event has to involve physical destruction, however. Disasters can be digital too, like a ransomware attack encrypting your data and rendering your servers useless.

Why is Business Continuity Planning Critical?

You may be required to identify a BC plan as part of your industry compliance – or you may simply want to implement one as a good business practice. Either way, if a disaster strikes there are multiple issues that will need to be addressed, and you will need to figure out a Business Continuity plan immediately! For example, imagine your offices are destroyed or damaged beyond working means: you will need to figure out how to communicate with staff, how your customers will communicate with you, find alternate work areas for your staff, and even source the necessary business tools and workstations for critical staff. You can easily see that this process has so many variables that if you don’t plan ahead of time for how your business will address and survive a disaster, your business may not survive such an event.

So what does a Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Plan look like?

A Business Continuity plan should begin with a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) to identify your business critical processes and systems. Determine what kind of disasters are most likely to affect your organization, and how you would be affected by the disasters you define. Then decide what to do if one of these events occur, and how long your recovery will likely take to occur.

An example situation showing how your BC and DR plan would apply:

Situation: Your organization is located in an area with lots of construction that can cause power interruptions to the building.

  • Your BC and DR plans need to address an issue of a possible extended power outage.
  • Your Business Continuity plan would identify a process to quickly acquire a backup generator and document how to ensure your HVAC, security system and emergency communication systems are connected to it.
  • Your Disaster Recovery plan would identify a process to boot up your IT network in the cloud from the most recent backup and provide access to critical personnel remotely.

With the proper BC plan in place, a business-stopping disaster can potentially be turned into a temporary inconvenience.

Moving Forward…

So you’re probably wondering: “That all makes sense, but what is next for me and my company’s IT infrastructure in terms of planning for a disaster?” Good question. Be sure to tune in next week when we dive into the process of Disaster Recovery planning!


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