The Ultimate Guide to IT Disaster Recovery Plan
Have you developed an IT disaster recovery plan, or DRP, for your business?
The DRP has become over the years a necessity for companies at a time when computer disasters multiply, in particular cybercrime. But many companies have not yet made their arrangements, in particular, because of the expense item that this represents.
However, whether you are a VSE, an SME, or a large group, the consequences of the downtime of your computer system and the loss of data can be disastrous for your business.
Convinced of the need to anticipate the disaster recovery of your business?
Thanks to this article, you will know everything about the DRP, its advantages, and the procedure to follow to set it up.
What is a disaster recovery plan (DRP)?
A business recovery plan is defined as a set of procedures, the objective of which is to plan how to restart professional activity as quickly as possible in the event of an IT incident. By extension, the DRP also designates the document listing these procedures. It can be developed and owned either by the company itself or by an external service provider.
What does the DRP include?
Each IT disaster recovery strategy is to be adapted according to your company and its specificities, there is no ideal model. Finally, the most important thing is to anticipate everything and to have the most complete overview possible to better control the unforeseen.
Broadly speaking, the disaster recovery plan should include:
- Identification of critical activities that must be continued,
- Identification of all risks,
- The different maintenance solutions,
- The procedures to be applied according to different scenarios,
- The resources necessary for business continuity (human resources, raw materials, equipment, subcontractors, etc.),
- The recovery deadlines to be observed.
Why put in place a disaster recovery plan?
Some entrepreneurs perceive the implementation of a DRP as a shortfall in cash flow. However, developing a back-up plan has become essential given the current challenges.
The main advantage of the DRP? Ensure the resumption of activity as quickly as possible, to avoid significant losses in terms of business opportunities and turnover, which are sometimes fatal for companies.
Here are the various negative consequences of an interruption of systems or machines that the IT disaster recovery strategy can avoid:
- a slowdown in practical activity, as the teams no longer have certain essential resources to carry out their missions.
- a negative impact on turnover due to the incompetence to sign new contracts,
- the loss of data which is dangerous for the very activity of the company, which no longer has the information necessary to ensure its normal activity,
- a decrease in customer satisfaction who cannot benefit from the product or service for which he paid,
- a referral of a negative image to potential partners and prospects,
- risks of legal proceedings for breach of obligations.
Steps in developing a disaster recovery plan
A disaster recovery plan is specific to each company since it is built according to its structure, its needs, its size, etc. However, certain mechanisms and good practices are commonly applied when it comes to setting up disaster recovery plan steps.
Step 1: identify possible risks
Not all businesses are exposed to the same incidents and disasters.
If we take the example of natural disasters, note that some companies have more exposed infrastructures (seismic zones, flood zones, etc.).
So proceed upstream with an analysis of the risks to be prevented, and consider all possible scenarios.
Step 2: assess your critical resources and activities
In a context where systems are increasingly complex and associated, it is therefore advisable to precisely define the priorities of the company concerning the necessity of certain components.
To do this, evaluate the following two data:
The RTO, or Recovery Time Objective. This is the maximum amount of downtime your business can handle before the situation becomes serious.
The RPO, or Recovery Point Objective. It corresponds to the maximum duration of data loss admissible by the company. For example, an activity constrained to a full data backup once a day has a 24 hour RPO. This can be greatly reduced for some companies which perform much more regular data backups. This is the case, for example, in the banking sector.
Ultimately, analyzing these two indicators helps you determine with precision the degree of urgency by department or by activity, and consequently the measures to be adopted for each.
Step 3: Define your disaster recovery strategy
Once the potential risks have been identified and the impacts by activity defined, it is time to consider the measures and strategies to adopt, as well as their implementation.
Which measures to choose?
The measures must be taken taking into account the needs of the company, as well as its entire information system (from hardware and software and applications, including its data).
In general, we distinguish two types of measures:
- Preventive measures. For example :
- The backup routine data,
- The redundancy or data replication,
- The use of backup sites, etc.
- Curative measures. For example :
- The trigger emergency systems,
- data recovery or recovery,
- The use of data backup sites,
- The application restart, etc.
Step 4: Document in writing
As we have seen, the disaster recovery plan also relates to the document on which all the strike forces of the company will rely in the event of a disaster.
Putting your DRP in writing facilitates the general organization, the management of human resources, and the understanding of the procedures by your entire company.
Step 5: set up tests
It is difficult to make the right decisions in the face of disappointments in an emergency and stress.
Solution? Set up tests:
- At the organizational level, to make sure everyone knows exactly what to do in the event of an IT business interruption.
- At the technical level, and this regularly. This process allows, for example, to anticipate the behavior of your data backup system.
Step 6: upgrade your DRP
Note that the tests discussed above are also used to review your disaster recovery plan if necessary, based on detected failures.
Besides, an IT disaster recovery strategy evolves and adapts to changes in your business, whether economic, organizational, or technological.
Do you have a plan?
Let’s face the truth, IT risks are increasing as data becomes an increasingly critical business to modern businesses.
Therefore, it becomes essential to limit the breakage by utilizing a disaster recovery plan. And if the establishment of a DRP depends greatly on technical implementation and the choice of efficient and suitable software, you need to be aware of the human dimension. Because the performance of the measures adopted greatly depends on the approval and understanding of all the players, from the management spheres to the practical teams.
And you, in the event of an IT disaster, what is your plan?