What is a Disaster Recovery Plan and Why is it Important?

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    Computer usage has increased by more than 1,000% over the last two decades and shows no sign of slowing down.1 This has made data protection essential, and in a world where digital access is a must, time lost from a system crash can have catastrophic consequences for business processes.

    Downtime can result in significant financial losses, with Gartner estimating that it costs the average company around $5,600 a minute.2 On top of that, downtime and data loss can spell disaster for the remote teams organisations work hard to support. 

    So, how do you recover from a disaster quickly and effectively? The better question is, how do you plan for it? Disaster recovery isn’t an easy conversation, and there are certainly other things businesses would prefer to allocate time and resources to, but wise investments now can prevent negative outcomes down the road. 

    Today we’re going to take a closer look at benefits of disaster recovery plans, what they are, and what the future of disaster recovery looks like. But first, let’s get a little background.

    Image of DR Plan

    What is a disaster recovery plan?

    A disaster recovery plan, or DRP, is a formal document created by an organisation that details how to respond to various types of disasters. This will typically include things like power outages, cyber-attacks, including ransomware, and a range of other disruptive events.

    The best DRPs go beyond simply restoring data that has been lost. Good plans aim for quick restorations to key systems like:

    • Hardware infrastructure
    • Software applications that may have been damaged
    • HVAC and other key building access systems

    Why is a disaster recovery plan important?

    A disaster recovery plan is essential in keeping an organisation’s data accessible and protected. If a clear DRP isn’t in place businesses leave themselves open to a number of threats, including:

    • Lost revenue: Financial losses of some kind are inevitable when downtime occurs, but effective planning can reduce the impact significantly.
    • Brand damage: One of the hardest things to recover from as a brand is bad publicity.
    • Dissatisfied customers: Keeping customers happy should be your number one priority — if a customer can’t get what they need from you they will go elsewhere to get it.

    Remember, the longer your recovery time after a disaster, the greater the impact to the company.

    Benefits of a disaster recovery plan

    For now, let’s focus on some of the benefits that your business can access by creating and implementing an effective DRP. These are wide-ranging and numerous, but the most significant include:

    • Cost efficiency: This is where long-term implications outweigh short-term expenditures. It is more cost-effective for your business to mitigate against possible threats rather than accept the costs of prolonged downtime.
    • Increased productivity: Part of a DRP includes regular checks of your entire system. Whether threats are detected or not, there is, at minimum, going to be some actionable insight gleaned from these exercises — insight that will lead to more efficient processes and inevitably increase productivity.
    • Better customer retention: Your customers are your number one priority, and they aren’t going to stick around and wait for you to get it right. A single event could cause a significant loss of customers, but an effective DRP works to prevent this.
    • Flexibilty: An effective plan gives ogranisations the agility they need to respond rapidly in the event of a disaster. On top of that, cloud-based solutions allow organisations to restore critical data and systems to any location.

    Now that we know what a disaster recovery plan is and why they are so important to businesses, let’s look at how these plans are created.

    What should a disaster recovery plan include?

    Whilst disaster recovery plans will inevitably vary from one organisation to another, there are 7 core phases to consider when you come to develop a plan for your organisation. These are:

    • Vulnerability Assessment: You want to begin with a vulnerability assessment that will help you gauge where you are and outline what you may need moving forward.
    • Organisational Impact Assessment: Also referred to as a business impact analysis, or BIA, this assessment is essentially a quantifying exercise into how well prepared your system currently is to withstand threats. This ends in an actionable insight report, personalised to your organisations’ needs.
    • Defining: In this phase you need to outline the specifics (i.e. requirements and continuity, recovery plans and restoration goals)
    • Subplans: This is where brainstorming comes into play. When considering what plans to implement, make sure they fit to the needs of your specific needs as these will vary.
    • Create the DRP: Now the research is over, the budget has been considered and it is time to create your DRP, which includes any subplans created in phase 4 above.
    • Testing: This phase fairly is self-explanatory, but it does include checks at regular intervals, whether a problem is detected or not.
    • Maintenance: Once you’ve spent the time creating a comprehensive plan, regular maintenance of that plan will ensure you’re ready for future growth.

    Now that you know how to create a plan and understand why one is needed, it’s time to carefully consider all of your options.

    Introducing Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

    One such option is investing in a third-party service model known as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). This approach uses disaster recovery software to mirror your data and applications, either on-site or in a cloud-hosting platform, so they are easily available and accessible for data restoration following a disaster.

    In simple terms, this takes the form of a disaster recovery plan tailored to provide you and your organisation with peace of mind by significantly reducing the amount of downtime you experience when an unexpected disaster occurs.

    While it is an investment that deserves careful attention, it usually is administered as a service level agreement that offers pay-as-you-go options. Organisations that offer DRaaS services can be a great asset to smaller companies that have limited access to robust IT teams in-house.

    There are various benefits that come with DRaaS, but the most crucial to consider are:

      • Rapid recovery: By agreeing on a rapid recovery time objective (RTO) before signing a service user agreement, you guarantee that your business will be backed up and running in a limited period when disaster strikes.
    • Scalability: With DRaaS, you can continually review your needs and make changes whenever deemed necessary.
    • Enhanced security: Disaster Recovery as a Service offers a secure infrastructure backup, especially when you work with providers who offer encrypted data storage.
    • Cost-effectiveness: Set payments for DRaaS will vary in each unique agreement, but these solutions offer significant savings compared with attempting to create an in-house recovery infrastructure.

    Get started with DRaaS

    Disaster recovery is a perfect example of investing time, money, and resources now to avoid potentially disastrous consequences later on. Putting a plan together can however be a cumbersome and complex process.

    While DRaaS looks set to be the future of disaster recovery, it’s important to remember that poor decisions around DRaaS can also negatively impact your business. That’s why, to ensure DRaaS and disaster recovery work for you, you should consider consulting with professionals who can guide you through the decision-making process. 

    Through partnerships such as these, you can develop a comprehensive business continuity plan you can rely on, and identify a DRaaS provider that truly meets your organisation’s specific requirements.

    Don’t wait until disaster strikes. Get in touch with Nexstor and start planning today!

    1 Key Internet Statistics to Know in 2022 (Including Mobile)

    2 The Cost of Downtime

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    Rob Townsend

    Rob is a co-founder at Nexstor and has dedicated his career to helping a range of organisations from SME to Enterprise to get ahead of the game when it comes to their compute, storage and data needs.

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