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How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan

The average person thinks of disaster recovery as a data center building being consumed by an inferno or destroyed by an earthquake or heavy flood.  

However, it is no secret that even small disasters can be deadly. For example, a system failure or human error can lead to a disaster. An example of this would be if an IT staff mistakenly plugs one or more network cables into the wrong hub, or if he changes the temperature setting of a data center from Fahrenheit to Celsius, causing an overheated system to shut down. 

How about disasters caused by cyberattacks such as ransomware attacks that damage vital data or render necessary resources inaccessible?

An effective disaster recovery plan is an effective risk mitigation tool, regardless of whether your business is threatened by a natural disaster or a cybersecurity incident. What are disaster recovery plans? Why do you need one? If you want to develop a disaster recovery plan, what are the steps you need to take?

What are Disaster Recovery Plans? 

These are a set of tools and methods that an enterprise uses to recover when a significant disruption occurs to its IT infrastructure. A variety of devices can be used when developing a disaster recovery plan, depending on the company’s resources and recovery objectives.

The term “disaster” refers to any occurrence disrupting access to data, apps, or IT infrastructure in disaster recovery planning. There are many examples of this, including power blackouts, downtown corruption of data, cyber-attacks, natural disasters that break server connections, etc., basically anything that disrupts IT workflows. 

To create an effective disaster recovery plan, including information that will allow the organization to recover quickly from disruptions. The company’s risk of losing customers or harming its brand increases when a disruption results in extended delays or challenges. When a business takes longer to recover, a more significant negative impact will be felt in all areas of the organization.

The Goals of a Disaster Recovery Plan

As the name implies, a disaster recovery plan is intended to ensure that applications and IT infrastructure vital to performing business functions can be recovered following a disaster. Disaster recovery plans are centered on business operations. 

In addition, Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP) facilitate Business Continuity (BC). For BC plans to succeed, there must be an infrastructure to facilitate a quick return to business operations. In addition to ensuring compliance and regulatory requirements remain in place during disaster recovery, disaster recovery should ensure that disaster assets are protected.

Disaster Recovery vs Business Continuity    

Even though business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning share similar characteristics and are often confused, they are two separate but connected activities. 

While disaster recovery plans are an integral part of business continuity planning, it would be shortsighted to replace business continuity planning with DR for the following reasons: Business continuity plans deal with all business necessities. In contrast, disaster recovery plans deal specifically with the technology necessary to run the business. 

They can both be a response to disasters but aren’t necessarily complementary. It may be required to perform disaster recovery for a particular site or application due to an incident, but no office staff or other resources need to be relocated. Business continuity plans are activated if major natural disasters impact business for some time.

What Makes up a Disaster Recovery Plan?

DR plans typically contain (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) 
    This measures how much data could be lost during recovery operations. A data backup frequency can be adjusted to control this.
  • Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) 
    Describes the length of time it will take to reestablish normal operations following a disaster. More resources are typically required for faster RTOs.
  • Remote Data Backups 
    A disaster recovery plan must include the creation of a secondary offsite backup of your most crucial data.
  • Accountability Chart. 
    How are disaster recovery plans implemented? Roles and responsibilities are assigned in an accountability chart, making it easier to carry out a plan consistently and swiftly.
  • DR Plan Testing.
    It is common for DR plans to be tested frequently if an emergency occurs to ensure the RTOs and RPOs have been met.

Various Types of Disaster Recovery Plans

It is possible to customize DRPs for specific environments. These plans include:

Virtualized DR Plan

By using virtualization, disaster recovery can be implemented more straightforwardly and efficiently. In a virtualized environment, new virtual machines (VM) instances can be spun up within minutes, and high availability provides application recovery. 

It is also possible to perform testing more efficiently. However, the plan should include validation to prove that the applications can be operated in DR mode and restored to regular operation within the recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives(RTO).

Network DR Plan

The more complex a network is, the more challenging it is to develop a recovery plan. For the recovery procedure to be effective, it should be detailed, appropriately tested, and updated. In addition to performance data, this plan will also include personnel data.

Cloud DR Plan

Depending on the needs of the business, there are many ways to enforce disaster recovery with the cloud, from file backups to complete replication. Although cloud disaster recovery plans can be space, time, and cost-effective, they require proper management to keep them operational. The manager must know where their servers are located. During testing, a common problem in cloud computing can be resolved, which is security.

Datacenter DR plan

Usually, such plans focus solely on the infrastructure and data center facilities. A data center DRP begins with an assessment of operational risks. In addition to analyzing location, power systems, and security, it also studies office space. Several scenarios should be considered when developing a data center DR plan.

The Steps to Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

To ensure that you have included all the crucial details in your disaster recovery plan, follow these steps:

  1. Determine all Critical Operations
    When designing a DR plan, the first step is to identify all critical operations. Operational activities are integral to the existence of a business, so if any of these were to fail, it would have a significant impact on the organization’s ability to run. 
  2. Make an audit of all your IT infrastructure.
    You need to understand what “normal” is for your organization before you can plan to return everything to “normal.” To do so, you must identify the disparate networks and assets within your organization.
    To make it easier to back up and recover information in the future, putting together an inventory of your network’s IT infrastructure and the data each hold can help you streamline things and consolidate.
  3. Identify Potential Disruptors
    A business can be disrupted in many ways. In terms of potential disruptors, the industry in which you operate plays a role. Technology businesses, for example, may face a greater risk of cyberattacks. Identify all potential threats to your company’s operations by working with the different departments within the organization.
  4. Identify The Appropriate Response To Each Situation.
    Identify which situations may disrupt the organization and determine how it will respond. You should include personnel responsible for each area of responsibility and backup personnel if the employee responsible could not respond after a major disaster.
  5. Develop a Communication Plan
    Communication details should be included in your disaster recovery plan, such as who will speak to whom when certain situations arise. Various departments should also be assigned roles as part of this part of the plan.
  6. Create a Data Backup Plan
    In the event of a disruption that results in a loss of data, it will be essential to have a solid data backup plan. You can ensure each employee responsible for backing up the data knows what tasks they need to complete each day to make sure the data is saved by developing such a plan as a part of your disaster recovery preparations.
  7. Describe the Data Recovery Plan
    The organization’s overall disaster recovery plan should include a backup plan and a step-by-step approach to recovering any lost data. This step aims to outline the steps involved in data recovery so that whoever is charged with this task is capable of handling it and getting the data back as soon as possible.
  8. Conduct a Test
    Before a disaster strikes, it’s crucial to have a plan that goes over all the details and makes sure the steps work. When the plan has been completed, consult with department leadership to test it and examine any areas that need improvement.