An IT disaster is an event that stops your systems, databases, and applications from working. The average cost of a disaster like this to a business is €50,000+. For large companies, the figure goes up to €5,000,000+.
Most companies don’t recover from disasters. The costs are too high. 93% of businesses go out of business within a year after a major disaster (Security Magazine).
The good news is that a disaster recovery plan can protect your systems, your data, and your business. You can keep working (and thriving) through any disaster with a little forethought.
This is what we’re going to talk about today. As experts in data protection and disaster recovery, Agisko knows what it takes to survive disasters. And today, we'll explain what a DRP is; cover its benefits, and give you everything you need to make your own DRP.
Let’s start with…
What is Disaster Recovery Plan?
A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a set of procedures that help bring IT systems online after a disaster. A DRP’s goals are
- Limiting damage and service disruption (response).
- Recovering and resuming operations after an IT disaster (recovery).
With a good recovery plan, systems will survive earthquakes, power outages, cyberattacks, and more. Also, your data will remain safe and your operations uninterrupted through any disaster.
Common disaster types that organizations plan for include (but are not limited to)
- Hardware failure: can be caused by damage, physical degeneration, short-circuit events, etc.
- Application failure: can be caused by poor code, external attacks, work environment problems, etc.
- Communication failure
- Power outage
4 Disaster Recovery Plan Types
The best disaster recovery strategies make a digital twin of your IT system. This digital twin is spun up when it needs to stand in for a disaster-struck system as needed. It might include servers, networks, applications, operating systems, databases, and more.
The 4 main types of disaster recovery plans are:
#1 Data Center Disaster Recovery Plan
A Data Center DRP is a recovery plan for data centers. It protects your physical data center by backing it up. The backup system is a twin of the main one located remotely or on-premise.
Comprehensive Data Center DRP takes a lot of money and resources to put into place. This is because the plan has to account for physical objects: buildings, power sources, etc. Protecting these adds layers of complexity to a DRP and its implementation.
#2 Network Disaster Recovery Plan
A network disaster recovery plan helps restore network services following a disaster. It helps restore Internet access, the external network framework, and any other equipment, application, or process needed.
In addition to a checklist, a network DRP may list other things - like the equipment you need to get in advance, critical information your team needs to know, etc. It will also tell you how to know when a network is back to normal.
#3 Virtual Disaster Recovery Plan
A virtual disaster recovery plan helps recover IT systems using virtual machines. This usually involves backing up systems onto virtual machines (VMs) off-premise.
These virtual machines contain replicas of your IT assets, processes, applications, etc. In the event of a disaster, the VMs take over what your workstations used to do. Work carries on uninterrupted.
In the case of extensive damage, a virtual machine can replace your workstations wholesale. Work can continue uninterrupted this way, no matter the severity of the disaster.
Virtual machines are hardware independent, highly secure, and fast to deploy. In addition, they will remain safe even when something happens to your on-premise equipment. This negates the problems and limitations of a physical backup location.
Virtual DRPs are highly reliable and relatively inexpensive.
#4 Cloud Disaster Recovery Plan
Cloud-based disaster recovery plans involve storing your backups on the cloud. This is different from a virtual DRP because storage is on a distributed cloud, not a specific virtual machine.
Cloud DRPs are cheap to implement. They are reliable because they don’t have a single physical or virtual machine as a point of failure. And they can be implemented quickly through Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) vendors like Agisko.
In the modern world, Cloud DRPs are the gold standard in disaster response and recovery. Learn more about Disaster Recovery as a Service here to see if it’s right for you.
Now let's look at some common disaster recovery plan checklist items!
6 Benefits of Having a Disaster Recovery Plan
Do you need a disaster recovery plan? Take a look at their benefits below and see for yourself!
1. Business Continuity
Disaster recovery plans limit system downtime. This means you’re never losing money or business opportunities, even in case of a severe disaster (like complete on-prem data loss). You can continue doing business, accepting payments, and processing orders at all times.
Complying with industry regulations means having certain levels of uptime and data protection. Laws and authorities like HIPAA, FINRA, and ESMA (European Union) are the gold standards. Having a disaster recovery plan makes it easy to stay compliant.
3. Minimize damage
A disaster recovery plan means fewer risks, accidents, and disasters. A DRP guarantees data availability and physical security for IT systems if disasters happen. This reduces the impact of IT disasters while saving your company money.
4. Increased productivity and lower costs
A disaster recovery plan means there is less need for redundancies. You can do more with fewer resources, improving your productivity. Focusing on preparation and prevention means less money spent on responding to disasters.
5. Improved product and improved customer happiness
Customers aren't happy when your product or service isn't working, or data is lost. Reducing risks and problems for your customers helps improve your product. A disaster recovery plan helps ensure your customers are happier.
6. Data security
When a disaster happens, you are at risk of data loss and exposure. This can cost you an arm and a leg for various reasons. For example, third parties might steal customer data, infect your systems with ransomware, etc.
When this happens, customers lose faith in your ability to protect their data. Vendors don’t want to do business with you. Team members spend a lot of time and energy explaining the mistake to everyone.
Having a disaster recovery plan helps limit these security risks. It also gives you a method for recovering that data and continuing operations. This is why data security is arguably the most important part of a data recovery plan.
Checklist: 12 Disaster Recovery Plan Must-Haves
#1 Objective/major goal
It is critical that your DRP clearly states your primary goals for recovery. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and pulling in the right direction. For instance, the following questions might help:
- What are our disaster recovery plan's main objectives?
- How will we know we've recovered from the disaster?
Having a disaster recovery plan is essential. But what happens if you don't practice your company's response? Employees will be sluggish, and people won't know what to do.
Practicing a DRP will boost your team's performance in the event of a disaster. When things go south, your preparation will get you back up and running faster. Practice makes perfect!
#3 Recovery Time Objective & Recovery Point Objective
Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is how long we can spend on recovering normal operations, e.g., 3 hours or 10 minutes.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is how much data we can lose, like how long we can be on downtime, e.g., 2 hours of data.
These are important benchmarks to know. They help prioritize decision-making and recovery processes after a disaster. Accurate, helpful targets will help you get to the baseline you need to restore operations.
#4 Application and Equipment Inventory
You need a list of your up-to-date inventory and digital assets. You can categorize these as
- critical assets,
- important ones, and
- unimportant ones.
This will help you prioritize which part of your infrastructure to focus on in the event of a disaster.
#5 Responsibilities and Roles
Having a communication plan in place, and making sure people are familiar with their roles, is vital. In the event of a disaster, effective comms are one of the most important things to recover first.
Who does what?
- Who's responsible for declaring the disaster and contacting 3rd-party vendors and external stakeholders?
- Who will report to management, communicate with customers, and report on the recovery effort?
These are the kinds of questions you should be asking at this stage.
#6 Disaster Response Procedures
What is the exact set of procedures you need to follow? The steps should be explained in clear, direct, and simple language. This is a company document that helps the recovery process go smoothly.
#7 Identify Sensitive Processes and Data
Which of our processes and what data is sensitive? This could include employee or consumer information, credit card data, and intellectual property. Knowing who has access to this data and how it is backed up is important so you can prioritize its recovery.
#8 Physical Facility Needs
When a physical disaster like a flood strikes, you must know how to restore your facility to operation. In addition, you need to know the minimal physical needs to do that. This DRP checklist item will improve your disaster response times.
#9 Impact Analysis and Internal/External Responses
How are we going to analyze the business impact of what happened? How do we relay what happened to the media, employees, and our team?
#10 Recovery Activity
You've completed your first response procedures. You've secured your sensitive data and processes. Now, it’s time to ask questions that return you from recovery to normal ops:
After analyzing what happened, how do you get things back to normal? And protect against the type of disaster that just happened?
#11 Creating New Processes for Future Security
Once a disaster has happened, and you've responded appropriately, it's time to look at the data. How did it happen? What were areas of weakness? Could it have been prevented? Could we have responded better?
Answering these questions will help you create new processes and procedures to safeguard your company in the future.
#12 Testing the System to Prevent Repeat Disasters
Running tests and simulations is part of the process of preventing repeat disasters. This is especially important when dealing with cybercrime. Running tests on your newly implemented processes will tell you if you have shored up your defenses enough.
It can be hard to devote time and money to implementing and testing a disaster recovery plan on your own. However, this doesn't mean this is something to write off and hope a disaster never happens to you.
You can save a lot of time and money by using our cloud-based recovery plan at Agisko. Let us handle creating your DRP so you can spend more time refining your product and service.