What Is A Disaster Recovery Plan?

What Is A Disaster Recovery Plan?

When it comes to IT disasters, it’s a matter of when — not if. While the cause varies — from power outages to provider problems to on-site hardware failure — every business eventually comes face to face with disaster.

Robust response to disasters offers better ROI than prevention. While it’s critical to deploy tools and technologies capable of detecting the hallmarks of common concerns and deflecting the worst of the impacts, relying on a prevention-only approach puts companies at risk of being caught off-guard when true disaster strikes.

A comprehensive disaster recovery plan (DRP) can help. Here’s how.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan — and Why Does It Matter?

Before diving into the plan, it’s worth asking an even broader question: What is disaster recovery? Disaster recovery refers to the actions taken by a business to get systems back up and running after a serious event.

A disaster recovery plan, meanwhile, is a written document that details the policies and procedures companies use after a disaster to resume operations. DRPs fall under the broader umbrella of business continuity plans (BCPs) and may include everything from assigned staff roles during disasters to step-by-step processes used to mitigate disaster impact and specific information about recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs).

What Types of DRPs Exist?

When it comes to DRPs, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The type of plan that best suits your business depends on existing IT infrastructure; the type and amount of data collected and processed; and the implications of downtime on business objectives.

Some common types of DRPs include:

  • Backup-only planning: Considered the “bare bones” of disaster recovery and BCP, backup-only planning can assure that copies of mission-critical data are made and sent to an off-site location at regular intervals. While this type of DRP helps protect key data, it does nothing to address issues surrounding the recovery of desktops, applications and servers. 
  • Cold-site disaster recovery: Cold-site recovery leverages an off-site location to create a simplified “copy” of your current IT infrastructure in case of emergencies. Along with critical data, cold sites contain basic apps and services that let you carry out essential tasks in case of disaster, but are only a stopgap until you can get key systems up and running. This DRP approach isn’t recommended for companies with large or complex IT infrastructures.
  • Hot-site disaster recovery: Hot-site recovery creates a full-fledged copy of your infrastructure, apps and data off-site, in turn, making it possible to switch all operations to the hot site in the event of a local disaster. This is a solid option for enterprises that can’t afford even minimal downtime, but does come with a substantial cost.
  • Virtualized disaster recovery: In a virtualized disaster recovery approach, companies pay service providers for compute power. Providers then create a virtualized copy of critical infrastructure on their servers that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Simplicity and spend are both benefits here: Providers handle the DR details for a flat monthly fee, and companies don’t need to worry about hardware maintenance, upgrading and replacement.

How do Disaster Recovery Plans Benefit Your Business?

Disaster recovery plans offer multiple benefits for your business — including reduced losses, improved response times and increased consumer confidence.

From a cost and loss perspective, a robust DRP helps mitigate the impact of a disaster on your business. In turn, it reduces the amount of downtime suffered by IT systems and the amount of time lost by other departments such as sales, marketing and customer service.

A well-built and well-tested plan also makes it possible to shorten the time between disaster and response. Equipped with detailed guidelines and bolstered by regular training, staff members are prepared to act quickly when disasters occur.

Clear and detailed plans can help boost consumer confidence that when disaster strikes, their data will be protected by reliable backup systems and critical business functions won’t be offline for long.

Steps to Implement Effective Disaster Recovery

Of course, it’s one thing to understand the importance of disaster recovery — it’s another to build and implement an effective plan.

Here, three steps are critical:

  1. Identify potential weak points: Before your company can determine the best approach to disaster recovery, it’s critical to identify potential weak points. These could include key pieces of infrastructure with no cloud or virtual backup, or data sources that aren’t reliably replicated across recovery servers. The more you know about where disasters could potentially impact key business operations, the better prepared you are to pinpoint disaster recovery solutions that address concerns and reduce overall risks.
  2. Create a clear chain of action: To reduce the time between IT disaster and recovery, businesses must create a clear chain of action that assigns tasks to people within the organization, along with identifying backups for those individuals if they’re not available. It’s also worth regularly testing your response plan to help reduce the risk of missed steps or crossed wires. The more often DRPs are assessed and evaluated, the more confident teams become in their response.
  3. Build a redundant framework: Finally, it’s important to recognize that DR solutions are not immune to disaster. It’s worth building a redundant framework that includes on-site and off-site backups, along with cloud-based disaster recovery that makes it possible to access key data and applications — even if disasters disrupt multiple locations.

Maximize Recovery With MXOtech

Looking to build your DRP and deliver on disaster recovery objectives? MXOtech has you covered. From customized disaster recovery planning to solutions such as cloud disaster recovery and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), MXOtech can help your team find the best-fit DRP framework for your needs, budget and preferred recovery timeline.

Ready to start with DRP? Get in touch to learn more about how MXOtech can help minimize downtime and maximize your recovery efforts.