Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

By now I am sure everyone has heard of terms like Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity. These are terms used to describe the processes and tasks undertaken to ensure the return to service in the event of critical impact to the function of your business. Whilst this traditionally referred to IT infrastructure and services, it is recommended that these processes encompass all areas of your business.

Disaster Recovery largely refers to what happens in the event of data loss and the processes that are undertaken to restore access to this data or business function. Disaster recovery goes hand in hand with Business Continuity, but this term more refers to your businesses plan or strategy in the event of a significant disruption to ensure that your business can continue to operate with minimum downtime and impact. Whilst the terms seem closely related, and in many instances are, a BC plan will ensure that the business is able to operate whilst a DR plan is still being enacted. A simple example of this would be the ability for a business to have all calls diverted to a mobile phone in the event of a phone system outage. The mobile phone is clearly not a full return to business function, but it allows some sort of continuity of service to customers to minimise any loss of revenue. The DR plan in this instance would detail the tasks involved to restore the functionality of the original phone system.

Sometimes when assessing these, the task at hand can seem daunting and quickly become a costly exercise. It is important to plan this by listing all of your organisations processes/applications/data and prioritising them accordingly. From this information you can evaluate how long your business can survive without these functions. This will assist in calculating the potential loss of revenue and assist in defining your required Recovery Time Objectives. Combining this with a simple risk matrix analysis will help define what sort of budget should be assigned to establishing these.

With regards to making a plan, it is important to put yourself in the mindset of how your business would act when faced with a major disaster. Floods, fires, vandalism and theft are all examples of events that can have catastrophic impacts to a business, and in some instances, a complete loss of business data could mean the end to a business.

If you haven’t already discussed this with your trusted IT partner, I strongly recommend you initiate the discussion because as the saying goes, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”.

By Marc Beath, Services Manager