All you need to know about Disaster Recovery Planning

disaster recovery planning

Last Updated: July 17, 2021

IT companies are always susceptible to a number of unforeseeable and unpredictable events that can disrupt services for long hours. Such disastrous events can lead to a loss in revenue, loss of goodwill and can even lead to irreversible damage to the overall business. Since technical fatalities can’t be eradicated completely, the best approach is to formulate the necessary actions that can help mitigate these events. This is where disaster recovery planning comes in.

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is basically a documented guidance, instructing the business how to effectively deal with disastrous situations and execute an effective recovery plan to resume operations and services. A DRP is drafted to protect against the loss of data, system functionality failure, and any other technical disaster that adversely affects the company. Therefore, disaster recovery planning is the organization of the tools and procedures that allow businesses to recover from the discontinuation of operation, unpredictable cyber attacks, and the impairment of the company’s IT assets.

What does a Disaster Recovery Plan Incorporate?

A disaster recovery plan comes under the Business Continuity plan and in order to effectively mitigate the effects of disasters, there are certain criteria and key aspects that it must comply with. The following parameters serve as the guidelines in order to formulate an optimal disaster recovery strategy:

  • Recovery Point Objectives or RPO: An RPO measures the acceptable amount of data loss during recovery after a disastrous event.
  • Recovery Time Objectives or RTO: This is the estimated length of time required to make a full recovery beyond which the business will be suffering from unavoidable consequences.
  • Responsibility and Accountability: Next is the task of assigning the responsibilities to execute the disaster recovery plans properly. The successful execution of the DRP requires dedicated personnel who shall be held accountable should anything go other than how things were planned. By defining responsibilities and accountability beforehand, the plans and execution can be carried out without any unnecessary delay.
  • Testing DR sites: Disaster Recovery sites also need to be tested and maintained regularly in order to make sure they are able to meet the parameters for an effective recovery.
  • Remote Data Backup: Backing up data on to an offsite secondary storage is the foremost step for recovery. By making sure we have a copy of all the essential data, the loss of one copy can be easily compensated by another copy of the same. Read more on Data Backup Strategies.

The first challenge is deciding on acceptable levels of the above-mentioned parameters. It is usually a tradeoff between achieving shorter RPO and RTO against a higher cost associated with it. Therefore, the company’s budget can also be a deciding factor for having an effective disaster recovery plan. However, it is often a bit of a stretch for small and medium businesses to have an extended budget to ensure the disaster recovery strategy is adequate, practical, and efficient.

This is where cloud technologies offer superior solutions in the form of Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). DRaaS allows an organization to have the IT assets (data and applications) backed up in a hosted environment where the service providers provide the DR orchestration, to recover the IT infrastructure and regain access and functionality of the IT assets after a disaster.

Why is DRaaS the right way to go?

Basically, DRaaS means that your data and applications will be replicated in the hosting servers of a third-party cloud vendor. In case of a disaster, the recovery plan is also executed within the premises of the cloud service provider. DRaaS plans eliminate the cost of ownership, maintenance, and staffing for the resources used in the backup and recovery so companies will only be bearing the cost of the subscription-based on a pay-per-use model only when disaster strikes. Also, there are no requirements for provisioning, upgrading, and licensing the disaster recovery environment. This means that the technical, as well as economical overhead for the company, is greatly reduced and hence it is the ideal solution for small and medium enterprises.

On the one hand, organizations can save a lot of budget by opting for DRaaS from reliable cloud service providers. Many DRaaS providers will only charge you if their services have been used. But the catch is that companies must be very cautious about service level agreements since data backup and disaster recovery are both highly sensitive matters. There could be times when the service providers themselves might be incompetent to execute recovery strategies during large natural disasters. Also, the service providers’ policies and prioritizations matter equally since businesses need to be putting a great amount of trust in the cloud vendors. However, if careful considerations are made when opting for cloud services, DRaaS is the ultimate solution for disaster recovery, especially for SMEs.

DRaaS models:

Once a company decides to move forward with DRaaS, there are several modalities they can follow. Organizations can hand over only certain areas of disaster recovery planning or the entire planning to the cloud service provider. There are a total of three models to choose from in order to meet your particular disaster recovery needs:

  • Managed DRaaS: In this model, the cloud service provider is fully responsible for all of the disaster recovery strategies and implementations. The company, however, needs to be in constant contact with the service provider to make sure that all the infrastructure, application, and service changes are up to date. This model is most suitable for companies who lack IT personnel capable of managing any aspects of disaster recovery and thus are better off receiving the service from a third-party vendor instead.
  • Assisted DRaaS: When companies have a workforce having some competencies and expertise in the domain of disaster recovery, it’s a good idea to have only some aspects of the disaster recovery plan handled by third-party vendors. The disaster recovery procedures will be optimized by the service providers but the implementation is handled by the in-house employees. This model is also suitable when the company has some customized application that’s too sensitive or challenging to be shared to third parties.
  • Self-Service DRaaS: The final option is the most economical method for implementing Disaster recovery plans. The company will plan, test, and manage the disaster recovery themselves while hosting the data and application backup on virtual machines in a remote location. There is no direct involvement of a third-party service provider in this model. Since the entire responsibility falls on the company’s workforce, having experienced personnel with enough expertise in disaster recovery is a must.

Based on your individual requirements, there are enough options to choose from for a reliable disaster recovery model. For further consultations, contact us or go through the range of services that we offer.

Author: Justin Fridell

Justin Fridell is the Founder of Fridell Technical Solutions. He loves to write helpful guides/articles to help business owners and homeowners deal with their IT needs.

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