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Ethan Murphy
Ethan Murphy

Disaster Recovery Plan



A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a documented, structured approach that describes how an organization can quickly resume work after an unplanned incident. A DRP is an essential part of a business continuity plan (BCP). It is applied to the aspects of an organization that depend on a functioning information technology (IT) infrastructure. A DRP aims to help an organization resolve data loss and recover system functionality so that it can perform in the aftermath of an incident, even if it operates at a minimal level.




Disaster Recovery Plan


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The plan consists of steps to minimize the effects of a disaster so the organization can continue to operate or quickly resume mission-critical functions. Typically, a DRP involves an analysis of business processes and continuity needs. Before generating a detailed plan, an organization often performs a business impact analysis (BIA) and risk analysis (RA), and it establishes recovery objectives.


As cybercrime and security breaches become more sophisticated, it is important for an organization to define its data recovery and protection strategies. The ability to quickly handle incidents can reduce downtime and minimize financial and reputational damages. DRPs also help organizations meet compliance requirements, while providing a clear roadmap to recovery.


When disaster strikes, the recovery strategy should start at the business level to determine which applications are most important to running the organization. The recovery time objective (RTO) describes the amount of time critical applications can be down, typically measured in hours, minutes or seconds. The recovery point objective (RPO) describes the age of files that must be recovered from data backup storage for normal operations to resume.


Recovery strategies define an organization's plans for responding to an incident, while disaster recovery plans describe how the organization should respond. Recovery plans are derived from recovery strategies.


Management approval of recovery strategies is important. All strategies should align with the organization's goals. Once DR strategies have been developed and approved, they can be translated into disaster recovery plans.


The main objective of a DRP is to minimize negative effects of an incident on business operations. A disaster recovery plan can range in scope from basic to comprehensive. Some DRPs can be as much as 100 pages long.


The location of a disaster recovery site should be carefully considered in a DRP. Distance is an important, but often overlooked, element of the DRP process. An off-site location that is close to the primary data center may seem ideal -- in terms of cost, convenience, bandwidth and testing. However, outages differ greatly in scope. A severe regional event can destroy the primary data center and its DR site if the two are located too close together.


The disaster recovery plan process involves more than simply writing the document. Before writing the DRP, a risk analysis and business impact analysis can help determine where to focus resources in the disaster recovery process.


Another component of the DRP is the communication plan. This strategy should detail how both internal and external crisis communication will be handled. Internal communication includes alerts that can be sent using email, overhead building paging systems, voice messages and text messages to mobile devices. Examples of internal communication include instructions to evacuate the building and meet at designated places, updates on the progress of the situation and notices when it's safe to return to the building.


External communications are even more essential to the BCP and include instructions on how to notify family members in the case of injury or death; how to inform and update key clients and stakeholders on the status of the disaster; and how to discuss disasters with the media.


The plan should define the roles and responsibilities of disaster recovery team members and outline the criteria to launch the plan into action. The plan should specify, in detail, the incident response and recovery activities.


DRPs are substantiated through testing to identify deficiencies and provide opportunities to fix problems before a disaster occurs. Testing can offer proof that the emergency response plan is effective and hits RPOs and RTOs. Since IT systems and technologies are constantly changing, DR testing also helps ensure a disaster recovery plan is up to date.


Reasons given for not testing DRPs include budget restrictions, resource constraints and a lack of management approval. DR testing takes time, resources and planning. It can also be risky if the test involves using live data.


DR testing varies in complexity. In a plan review, a detailed discussion of the DRP looks for missing elements and inconsistencies. In a tabletop test, participants walk through plan activities step by step to demonstrate whether DR team members know their duties in an emergency. A simulation test uses resources such as recovery sites and backup systems in what is essentially a full-scale test without an actual failover.


An incident management plan (IMP) -- or incident response plan -- should also be incorporated into the DRP; together, the two create a comprehensive data protection strategy. The goal of both plans is to minimize the impact of an unexpected incident, recover from it and return the organization to its normal production levels as fast as possible. However, IMPs and DRPs are not the same.


The major difference between an incident management plan and a disaster recovery plan is their primary objectives. An IMP focuses on protecting sensitive data during an event and defines the scope of actions to be taken during the incident, including the specific roles and responsibilities of the incident response team.


A disaster recovery (DR) plan is a formal document created by an organization that contains detailed instructions on how to respond to unplanned incidents such as natural disasters, power outages, cyber attacks and any other disruptive events. The plan contains strategies to minimize the effects of a disaster, so an organization can continue to operate or quickly resume key operations.


A successful DR solution typically addresses all types of operation disruption and not just the major natural or man-made disasters that make a location unavailable. Disruptions can include power outages, telephone system outages, temporary loss of access to a facility due to bomb threats, a "possible fire" or a low-impact non-destructive fire, flood or other event. A DR plan should be organized by type of disaster and location. It must contain scripts (instructions) that can be implemented by anyone.


Before the 1970s, most organizations only had to concern themselves with making copies of their paper-based records. Disaster recovery planning gained prominence during the 1970s as businesses began to rely more heavily on computer-based operations. At that time, most systems were batch-oriented mainframes. Another offsite mainframe could be loaded from backup tapes, pending recovery of the primary site.


In 1983 the U.S. government mandated that national banks must have a testable backup plan. Many other industries followed as they understood the significant financial losses associated with long-term outages.


By the 2000s, businesses had become even more dependent on digital online services. With the introduction of big data, cloud, mobile and social media, companies had to cope with capturing and storing massive amounts of data at an exponential rate. DR plans had to become much more complex to account for much larger amounts of data storage from a myriad of devices. The advent of cloud computing in the 2010s helped to alleviate this disaster recovery complexity by allowing organizations to outsource their disaster recovery plans and solutions.


The compelling need to drive superior customer experience and business outcome is fueling the growing trend of hybrid multicloud adoption by enterprises. Hybrid multicloud, however, creates infrastructure complexity and potential risks that require specialized skills and tools to manage. As a result of the complexity, organizations are suffering frequent outages and system breakdown, coupled with cyber-attacks, lack of skills, and supplier failure. The business impact of outages or unplanned downtime is extremely high, more so in a hybrid multicloud environment. Delivering resiliency in a hybrid multicloud requires a disaster recovery plan that includes specialized skills, an integrated strategy and advanced technologies, including orchestration for data protection and recovery. Organizations must have comprehensive enterprise resiliency with orchestration technology to help mitigate business continuity risks in hybrid multicloud, enabling businesses to achieve their digital transformation goals.


With the growth of cyber attacks, companies are moving from a traditional/manual recovery approach to an automated and software-defined resiliency approach. Other companies turn to cloud-based backup services provide continuous replication of critical applications, infrastructure, data and systems for rapid recovery after an IT outage. There are also virtual server options to protect critical servers in real-time. This enables rapid recovery of your applications to keep businesses operational during periods of maintenance or unexpected downtime.


For a growing number of organizations, the solution is with resiliency orchestration, a cloud-based approach that uses disaster recovery automation and a suite of continuity-management tools designed specifically for hybrid-IT environments and protecting business process dependencies across applications, data and infrastructure components. The solution increases the availability of business applications so that companies can access necessary high-level or in-depth intelligence regarding Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and the overall health of IT continuity from a centralized dashboard. 041b061a72


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