Business continuity is an essential concept for companies operating in today’s challenging threat environment. Companies need comprehensive business continuity planning to protect themselves from the impact of an extended outage. The loss of IT systems for an extended period can seriously affect a company’s bottom line and in some cases put it out of business.

Outages can be caused by a variety of reasons, making them challenging to effectively prevent. An extensive outage can be caused by threat actors using weapons such as ransomware to cripple business-critical systems. It can also be the result of human error, extreme weather events, or social unrest that impacts an organization’s ability to obtain power and maintain operations.

Disaster recovery is an important part of a business continuity plan. We’re going to look at why it is important, what your business needs to protect itself, and where you can get help developing a disaster recovery plan that addresses your unique business requirements.

What is Disaster Recovery Planning?

Disaster recovery (DR) planning is a proactive approach to ensuring an organization can continue to operate after a disaster. It defines the steps and resources required to recover an appropriate level of functionality to maintain business operations in dire circumstances. While DR planning can be implemented in multiple scenarios, we are going to concentrate on plans to protect a company’s IT infrastructure.

A DR plan is comprised of multiple steps that address a company’s business-critical IT systems. The goal is to be able to quickly recover vital IT components so there is a minimal impact on business functionality and the ability to service customers. We’ll take a closer look at developing a DR plan shortly.

How Does Disaster Recovery Planning Support Business Continuity?

Disaster recovery planning is an integral component of a business continuity strategy. The majority of modern businesses cannot survive for long without access to their IT systems and data assets. Losing the ability to provide IT services to customers and employees can leave a company in an untenable position. Disaster recovery is therefore the most essential element of a business continuity plan. Without disaster recovery provisions, business continuity is doomed to failure.

Developing an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan

Developing and maintaining an effective disaster recovery plan involves multiple coordinated steps. The basic steps outlined below are relevant for any company, but the details need to be tailored to an organization’s business requirements and objectives. Skipping steps is not recommended

The following steps form the foundation of a DR plan that can save your business when disaster strikes.

Perform a risk assessment and impact analysis

The first step in developing a DR plan is to assess the potential risks and threats faced by your organization’s IT systems. A thorough understanding of the threat landscape is essential in devising a DR plan that performs as advertised when necessary. Both manmade and natural threats need to be considered when performing the assessment.

Conducting a business impact analysis is a related foundational element of DR planning. Once the threats to the environment are understood, you can begin to analyze their effects on a company’s  IT systems and their ability to disrupt critical functions and operations. During this analysis, critical systems that require immediate recovery in a disaster should be identified. Many companies have test and development environments that may not need to be included in DR plans.

Establish recovery objectives

Recovery objectives can be established after business-critical systems and processes are identified. When determining recovery objectives, systems should be prioritized based on their importance and dependencies. Two specific recovery objectives that should be defined for each system are:

  • Recovery point objectives (RPO) – The RPO defines the point in time to which a system should be recovered. For instance, a critical business database may need to be recovered within six hours of an outage.
  • Recovery time objectives (RTO) – The RTO defines the length of time that can elapse before systems are recovered. For example, an RTO of 24 hours means that a given system should be recovered within that time frame.

The combination of RTO and RPO describes the conditions under which systems should be recovered to minimize business disruptions.

Continuity planning

Companies need to develop plans to maintain the continuity of business functions as well as recover essential components of the IT environment. These plans may involve having a team go to an alternate work site to perform remote recovery or operate business systems from a safe location. A cloud disaster recovery strategy enables teams to perform the recovery from anywhere with an internet connection.

Data backup and recovery

Data backups are an essential ingredient in disaster recovery efforts. Companies need to have a viable backup and recovery solution that has been tested to demonstrate its effectiveness when needed. Backup data copies should be stored offsite to ensure resilience and protect them from the triggering disaster. Cloud backup solutions can be instrumental in streamlining the backup, recovery, and offsite storage requirements of a DR plan.

Testing disaster recovery capabilities

Recovery capabilities should be tested before they are needed to address a true disaster. Procedures may have to be modified to meet the company’s defined RTOs and RPOs. Testing can uncover deficiencies in the processes and people responsible for the recovery so changes can be made to protect the business when a disaster strikes.

Communication and documentation

Developing communication channels is important so all stakeholders and employees are notified of a disaster and can assume their roles in the recovery. All DR procedures and plans need to be fully documented and updated to align with changes to the IT environment or business objectives.

VAST’s Disaster Recovery Planning and Business Continuity Services

VAST has your back when it comes to disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Our comprehensive disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) offering leverages the capabilities of major cloud vendors to provide a highly automated recovery solution. DRaaS minimizes downtime and data loss to ensure your business survives a disaster.

We also offer business continuity services designed to help you identify the critical components that need to be incorporated into continuity plans. We work with you to create a plan that lets you continue business operations and serve your customers in any situation.

Talk to our team of experts today and get started on developing an effective disaster recovery plan that will keep your business running despite anything the world throws at your company.