Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Nobody thinks disaster will strike them – until it does. In business, you simply cannot afford to take the risk of a disaster without a proper plan in place to deal with it. This is because most modern businesses are completely reliant on IT. Think for a second how long your business could last without your current IT infrastructure? When would your customers lose trust, when would you run out of money, and at what stage would the situation become irrecoverable? Would you last a week, a few days, or even less?

Without a disaster recovery and business continuity plan, dealing with a major event would involve huge expense, frustration within your team, and too much time.

In other words, disaster recovery and business continuity plans are essential. What are they, however, and how do you get one?

Similar But Not the Same

Disaster recovery plans and business continuity plans are both about preparing for events that take down your company's IT. These can be unexpected events, like natural disasters. They can also be anticipated events where measures are put in place to mitigate the risk of them happening. Disaster recovery and business continuity plans take effect if those measures fail.

Many people conflate the two terms, however, mistakenly believing they are the same thing. While they are closely related, and you need both, they are different.

  • Disaster recovery – these are measures to restores a company's IT infrastructure following an emergency, criminal act, or natural disaster. This includes things like restoring servers, restoring data from backups, re-establishing a communication infrastructure, and more.

  • Business continuity - these are measures that ensure the critical processes in a business continue when disaster strikes. Crucially, it involves continuing business operations during a disaster event, as well as long after the disaster recovery stage is complete.

Disaster recovery is a part of most business continuity plans, but both are essential. For example, a company might have an effective disaster recovery plan that involves keeping off-site backups of its data. If a disaster strikes, the backups are accessed and used to restore the system. Imagine now that the access codes for the backups are in the possession of one person. What if that person was uncontactable on holiday when the disaster strikes? A business continuity plan would anticipate this sort of situation.

Business continuity plans are therefore as much about processes and procedures as they are about technical steps and IT solutions. Disaster recovery focuses on data and IT infrastructure. Business continuity prioritises things that are absolutely required to keep the business operational. It is also concerned with reputation, customer confidence, legal issues, and more.

Your business needs both a disaster recovery plan and a business continuity plan. To put them in place you need a professional assessment of your current IT infrastructure, management team, processes, and staffing resources. Additional solutions might have to be put in place, such as more robust backup tools, more secure firewalls, or secondary hardware that can take the strain when primary machines fail. This can take time to complete so if you don’t have a plan in place, start the ball rolling now.

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