Test Disaster Recovery Plans to Ensure Greatest Business Technology Outcomes

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(Newswire.net — February 27, 2020) — Whether it’s a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood, fire or earthquake, or a manmade incident such as a ransomware attack or data theft, your business is vulnerable.

That’s why you need to develop, refine, test and evolve disaster recovery plans. When such plans are in place, your business can reduce the impact of business disruptions. Your customers will be able to access your website, connect with employees and use online resources.

Ian Brady, a Melbourne managed IT services provider shares insights into business continuity, disaster recovery and data protection.

What’s the Difference Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?

Many people consider business continuity and disaster recovery to be the same thing. In reality, disaster recovery is one component of the business continuity structure each business should have.

Business continuity is a broad series of protocols and procedures that govern how quickly a business can resume operations after a disruptive event. Business continuity plans are designed to minimize disruptions to a business, allowing an organization to continue operating with minimal disruptions.

Business continuity plans detail the most critical functions and information. This may include inventories of IT assets, employee contact information, roles and responsibilities, copies of records or key business needs. It provides priorities for what systems and data are most essential for normal operations and prioritizes what needs to be addressed first during a disaster.

Disaster recovery is a functional component of business continuity planning. Once a disruptive event has been declared, disaster recovery comes into play, representing the steps taken and technologies deployed to restore operations. Disaster recovery often involves recovering lost data, addressing a loss of IT infrastructure or dealing with the loss of a technology component.

Disaster recovery plans deal with the specifics of recovering data and operational use of systems. Typically, disaster recovery identifies solutions for lost data, damaged hardware, inaccessible networks, application issues or other failure points within the organization.

While it generally focuses on IT needs, it may also address relocating employees to secondary or remote business locations, communication protocols if primary communication means are unavailable, or the use of vendors, suppliers, and third parties to regain operational control.

What Are the Key Elements of Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery planning focuses on several key items:

  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO): This measure is the maximum amount of time that operations or data can be inaccessible before there are significant consequences to the business collectively or a component of it. It’s the countdown clock that disaster recovery teams need to follow to avoid major damages to the company.
  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO): Your company should have a data backup timing strategy, identifying how frequently data is backed up. It’s the RPO that governs how far back into backup files your company needs to go to recover data in the event of a ransomware attack. For example, if your data is backed up every six hours, you would lose no more than six hours of data if struck with a ransomware hijack.
  • Recovery Technologies: This category represents the tools and solutions in place to aid your disaster recovery process. It may involve cloud or physical tape backups of critical data, cloud solutions that image your apps and operating systems, or backup servers used to temporarily host apps and data.
  • Recovery Protocols: This is one of the most essential components of your disaster recovery plan. It identifies the roles and responsibilities and the communication procedures used when time-sensitive work needs to be completed to reduce the impact of a disaster.
  • Vendors, Suppliers and Third Parties: A data incident is not yours alone, either in terms of impact or assistance. IT providers, suppliers and partners often play an essential role in data recovery and minimize impact from disruptions.

What Is Disaster Recovery Testing?

Your business can develop and document extensive disaster recovery plans, but until those plans are tested, your business remains vulnerable. IT disaster testing, whether it occurs quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily, helps businesses and IT partners to gauge whether plans are working. Testing backup solutions, communications plans, and roles help to refine your disaster recovery plans.

For example, data backups need to be tested to ensure they restore data within the RTO and RPO guidelines. Any devices used to recover data (often in minutes or seconds) also need to be evaluated regularly. Download speeds and resource effects need to be evaluated for any cloud-to-onsite recovery options. Cloud virtualization solutions need to be tested as well.

Here are several tips for optimal disaster recovery testing:

  • Choose technology that allows for testing.
  • Define a scope for testing, whether on local virtual machines, within the cloud or both.
  • Test frequently with a balance of customer needs versus time and resources.
  • Don’t be afraid to change procedures or technologies to respond to suboptimal tests.

Testing your disaster recovery solutions allow your business to be prepared and ready to act when the unthinkable becomes reality.