Disasters of any kind and magnitude have the possibility to put a stop to the seamlessly continuing workflows and operations. It is recommended for corporate entities to have the aid of a highly functional DRP to certify that no disaster is big enough to bring businesses down or push toward a downfall.
Let’s explore everything related to DRP extensively in this article in the next few minutes.
Disaster Recovery Plan Definition
A DRP can be expressed as the mastership of an enterprise to mend and fix the key IT functionalities soon after a disaster, regardless of the cause. It’s not a single task or one practice to enforce. Rather, it’s a combination of numerous workflows illustrating what and how the IT ecosystem should be restored.
Principally, DRP is a pre-documented strategy that businesses keep on updating to make sure it is relevant to the current context.
Applications And Purpose of DRP
Its key aim is to heighten the business’s operational continuity, cope with the data loss that occurred due to an incident, and trim down the aftermath. As digital data and IT resources are often the core of every workflow in today’s digitized world, organizations are recommended to have an exhaustive and full-fledged DRP in place so that operations are not hindered.
It must incorporate step-by-step actions to process as and when a disaster happens. Depending upon the organizational needs, a DRP might provide a brief of how these disasters can be prevented. To make it more effectual and result-driven, both man-made and natural actions helpful in recovering from a (cyber) disaster should be explained.
It’s often a part of BCP that the majority of the growth-seeking organizations will have to preserve operational permanence. As every disaster behaves differently, the DRP must be optimized according to each hazard.
The occurrence of a catastrophic event not only causes expenses and operational delays but also tarnishes the brand reputation and market presence. With DRP, enterprises can rescue both of these aspects with the same ease and perfection.
Also, the harshness of a mishap ranges according to the organizational goals and preferences. For instance, losing obsolete customer data may not seem a serious issue for a business that has transitioned completely and now working with different customer personas.
However, the same business will be very anxious about the safety of the API and microservices that are empowering the current line of business. Considering this, there is no thumb rule to define how a good DRP should look and what its components would be.
Speaking of which, there are still a few constituents that are part of every DRP. For instance:
It should describe the prevention techniques
It must feature achievable detection features to make sure novel threats are easily spotted
It should demonstrate the lesson learned while combating a distinct disaster
How does a DRP work?
A disaster recovery plan checklist or strategy should be expansive and must cover prevention, detection, and correction. Let’s break down all these segments to understand how a DRP operates.
Prevention: The primary function of a DRP is to make sure disasters are nowhere to be seen. It instructs viable technologies that businesses of all sorts must adopt to lessen the likability of a disaster. Some of the preventative techniques deployed here are taking regular back-ups, overseeing the configurations, spotting errors, if any, and ensuring that compliances are not at all violated.
Detection: A DRP tries to restrain the damage of a disaster by applying acceptable detection methods that aim to spot problematic events.
Correction: This step includes action planning by keeping a check on the potential DR situations. Mostly, it explains backup operations and data restoration.
The sum up of all the above actions is to guarantee that mission-critical data is securely replicated and fully backed up to a secondary place so that organizations don't have this data when a disaster takes place.
Types of Disaster Recovery Plans
A typical DRP template is fully customizable and lets you frame a plan that aligns best with your business needs and requirements; this is the biggest strength of DRP. All the leading DRPs are based on any of the below-mentioned varieties of DRP.
As the name suggests, this DRP type has preventive and remedial measures to deal with a myriad of network-side disasters. As the network ecosystem is mostly complex, network DRP and its implementation are often time-consuming and include actions like monitoring network health, finding any risks, and implementing remedial actions.
As the cloud is the core of digitization, a lot of resources are stored in the cloud and Cloud DRP ensures that all these resources have adequate protection against cyber threats. It involves taking back-up of the resources and migrating them to a replica of the existing cloud ecosystem so that there is a copy of key cloud resources handy. As multiple resources are there, cloud DR needs high-end management.
Virtualized DRP prepared virtualized operations strong enough to bear a disaster. Its scope includes virtual machine instances and using high availability, for instance, application recovery. Compared to network testing, virtualization testing is less strenuous. But, it’s important to ensure that the concerned application is running in DR mode and must be able to regain normal operations.
It focuses on ensuring that the datacenter and concerned infrastructure can work together in continuity. As a datacenter is where all the key data is stored and managed, keeping it protected is important. A detailed operational risk assessment is the core here. (All about Data Center Security)
Advantages of Disaster Recovery
The diligent and intelligent implementation of DRP is likely to empower enterprises in unimaginable ways. Starting from keeping disaster impact in control to helping the organization stand on its feet post an incident, DRP is a great ally to have in each situation.
Save huge operational expenses
Dealing with a disaster is often a very pocket-heavy job because fixing disasters demands investments. However, a disaster recovery plan has multiple elements that have proved their viability to trim down operational expenses up to a great extent. As mentioned above, preventive, detective, and corrective measures are the core of a DRP.
With prevention, threats of man-made disasters are controlled. The defined detection practices are designed to make sure that risks and threats are quickly identified and controlling measures are implemented.
As a part of prevention, systems are updated and scanned regularly. This way, risks, if any, are identified in the early stage and damage is controlled.
If a DRP is in place, recovery can start soon after a disaster. It suggests a wide range of tools that enterprises can use for data restoration as a catastrophic event takes place. It leverages data replication and backup with the use of automation so that manual efforts are reduced and recovery is instant.
Try combining disaster recovery with specified roles and you’ll be able to increase the team productivity as key task redundancies are controlled.
Living up to the expectations of the customers
In a cut-throat competitive world, businesses can afford to stay inoperative even for a single second. Delay service delivery by a few seconds, and be ready to lose many of your customers. DRP promotes business continuity by all means possible. With its help, organizations can ensure that a business remains at the customers’ disposal when a disaster takes place. This way, they can win customers' hearts and trust.
For an industry like healthcare, finance, and government bodies, adherence to certain compliances like FINRA and HIPAA is important. These compliances demand a plan to deal with disaster and DRP deals in the same.
Constant support for scalability
Scalability is the need of the hour and every growth-seeking business aims at it. However, the process itself is not challenge-free. DRP supports scalability up to a great extent as it empowers businesses so much so that inventive backup and recovery measures are in place. ((All about Cloud Scalability)
Implementation of disaster recovery is a great way to control human-driven risks or errors while getting rid of outdated hardware. When data is backed-up, the software is updated, and workflows are streamlined in a way that business scalability is promoted by default.
Businesses with robust cybersecurity approaches are winning at every front presently as they manage to reduce the risks and threats. DRP improves the default security of an organization because it concerns the implementation of advanced techniques such as encryption and IAM. These practices have proven records of reducing the likelihood of a cyber-attack.
How Do I Create a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Though an organization has all the freedom to customize the disaster recovery strategy, there is a standard protocol to stick to while generating a viable DRP. Here’s the procedure that you can follow:
Assess the risks
The process should be started by conducting an extensive risk assessment so that concerning risks can be discovered. Every business area should be under review and have an overview of the worst-case scenario if a disaster takes place.
As risks are identified, they should be prioritized as well, based on their damage capacity. Comprehensive risk assessment happens when both geographical and infrastructure factors are under review. The more components are part of this stage, the more efficient the DRP will turn.
Assess critical needs
The next stage is to carefully evaluate the mission-critical requirements so that a standard procedure is established. Organizations are recommended to prepare extensive documents related to agreements, alternatives, costs, special techniques, and other key requirements that are part of disaster recovery.
The third step instructs businesses to define the goals for disaster recovery so that they know what you’re expecting out of a plan. Businesses must create a list of crucial operations and try to identify the data/apps/equipment/functions that are important for disaster recovery.
You must overview the downtime expenses after a deeper analysis of RTO. In addition, RPO should be defined so that you know which data is OK to be lost during an incident.
Review the SLA to find out if the organizations are already promising any disaster recovery.
Update these terms and make sure they align with what you’re trying to achieve with DRP.
Collect data and create a written document
The more data you have to review, the more effective DRP will be. Hence, you’re suggested to collect the data via properly formatted forms. Now, which data should be collected? Ideally, the below-mentioned data holds great significance for DRP.
Lists of master vendors, key callers, contact information, backup employee detail, and notification checklist
Inventories of a data center, hardware, communication tools, forms, documents, insurance policies, and so on.
Data backup and retention schedules
Locations for temporary disaster recovery
System restoration and recovery procedure
This data should be well-documented, reviewed, well-written, and constantly updated. This data is later used to craft the DRP.
How do I Test a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Even if you’ve adopted the best measures in implementing the best measures in designing the DRP, testing its viability in real-time is vital so that you know when a disaster will take place in reality.
While DRP testing depends on what the organization is seeking out of it, its most preferred techniques are tabletop exercises, simulations, and full-scale testing. Choose the method that best suits your organization's needs.
In addition to these practices, organizations can also conduct dry-run tests to figure out any error or issue in the early stage.
Don’t forget to document the test result and evaluate them to make sure that testing is successful. Based on the collected data of these dummy tests, the organization must review and upgrade the current DRP so that they always have the best possible DRP.
Disaster Recovery Plan Example
Those who don’t want to invest the effort to devise a DRP can refer to the below mentioned examples.
MIT DRP: It carefully explains every basic and advanced DRP component, such as business continuity, disaster response, disaster detection, and so on. Makes a perfect disaster recovery plan template, doesn’t it?
IBM DRP: IBM is a leading tech giant that offers a highly effective DRP to control the damage from man-made and natural disasters. It explains how to reduce the impact of a disaster, viable recovery websites, and even viable testing.
RPO vs RTO
When we’re discussing disaster recovery in detail, it’s important to understand what RPO and RTO terms mean and how they differ from each other.
Let’s begin with RPO, which stands for Recovery Point Objective, and points out the amount of data that an organization can afford to lose if a disaster takes place. Even though data is crucial, not every piece of data holds importance, and it’s important to identify such data before DRP creation is going on.
Investing efforts and time to recover such data is not recommended. It’s often measured in the time interval at which data backup should take place. For instance, if the RPO value is 10 then it means data backup should take place within every 10 hours and if a disaster takes place before an incident takes place, the recent copy will be referred to as good.
On the other hand, RTO means Recovery Time Objective, and it signifies the permitted downtime that an organization can bear before commencing the restoration. This is also measured in the unit of time.
For example, an RTO of 5 hours means that the organization has 5 hours to complete the restoration. Downtime beyond RTO is more likely to cause severe operational damage.
An active DRP has both these factors pre-defined so that the team has a direction to move forward.
IMP (Incident management plan) vs. DRP
As IMP is often a part of DRP, knowing the spaces where these two collide and stand is important. Together, these two concepts are known to empower disaster recovery so much so that the impact is reduced and recovery is speedy.
While they both get along well with each other, they are not identical. They both have different aims to achieve. For instance, IMP works towards data protection and defining the actions that should be in place as an incident takes place.
DRP, on the other hand, aims to explain how recovery should be planned and which steps should be taken to control the aftermath of an incident.
Disasters of any kind and any magnitude can throw an organization a century back if loss is beyond control. Hence, they should be well-prepared to control, prevent, and correct disasters and their outcomes. As the post explained, a disaster recovery plan is a great way to:
Prevent future disaster
Speed-up the recovery
Ensure business continuity
Maintain compliance and fix many more hassles
It can be customized to fit the specific needs of an organization. Make sure you need your key objective in mind while drafting a DRP. With proper planning and execution, a DRP tends to bring impressive results. However, if your team does not have experts for this task, consider opting for DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service).
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A Disaster Recovery Plan is a documented strategy describing procedures to resume and maintain normal business operations in case of disasters.
Why do I need a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A Disaster Recovery Plan helps minimize downtime, mitigate the effects of a disaster, and aid in the timely recovery of critical systems and applications.
What are the key components of a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A Disaster Recovery Plan should define recovery objectives, identify critical resources, provide a recovery timeline, and assign roles and responsibilities.
How often should I review and update my Disaster Recovery Plan?
Your Disaster Recovery Plan should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure it remains relevant and effective.
Can you recommend a professional resource to learn more about Disaster Recovery Plans?
This article by Forbes provides a comprehensive overview of Disaster Recovery Plans and their implementation, along with the latest trends and best practices.