Disaster Recovery Site Requirements

Disaster Recovery Site Requirements

Disaster Recovery Site Requirements

Disaster Recovery Site Requirements

When disaster strikes, can your business still remain operational? If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place, and a disaster recovery site to relocate to, your company may experience significant disruption to operations.

Whether the incident in question is a natural disaster, weather related or a breach of your systems, having a computer security and disaster backup plan in place will allow your business to continue operating — sometimes from a new location.

Part of that plan is having a separate backup site, known as a disaster recovery site, where you can temporarily relocate to after a disaster happens. Below, we dive deeper into requirements for a disaster recovery site and explain more about disaster recovery plans.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)?

A disaster recovery plan, or DRP, is a process or policy that your company puts in place to guide the organization in how to respond when disaster strikes. Because so much of business nowadays revolves around precious data, protecting that data is not only mission critical, it’s time-sensitive.

Massive losses can occur when data is corrupted or wiped out altogether, whether that happens because equipment is compromised by weather, human error and/or a security breach. By having a disaster recovery plan in place, your IT professionals and other leaders will have a blueprint on what to do to protect as much data as possible, and restore any lost or damaged data from backups.

Do you have a DRP? If not, it’s essential that you begin creating one as soon as possible, and integrate the elements laid out below.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) 

A recovery time objective is a set time that you consider acceptable to get your network back up and running following an outage. This time period covers the moment the outage occurs until your systems are fully back up and operational.

An RTO could be impacted by many elements. First and foremost, it’s impacted by what the outage entails. If it’s just one application, the RTO is likely to be shorter than if you need to do a full restoration of your entire system.

In addition, how much revenue you will lose by the outage — and how much it disrupts business continuity — can also factor into determining the RTO.

The RTO helps to guide the team responsible for the recovery process. If the RTO is three weeks, for instance, they know they have time to get to the problem. If it’s an essential service that’s experiencing the outage, the RTO could be zero, which would require an all-hands-on-deck effort to restore the system immediately.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

The recovery point objective is similar to the RTO, only it deals with how much data loss would be acceptable following an unplanned incident that resulted in data loss.

RTO is expressed as time, and can be viewed as the point before the incident took place from which the data that was lost can be recovered successfully. In other words, the RTO outlines how much time has gone by since the last reliable data backup was completed.

Again, the RPO will vary depending on a number of factors. One of the most common ones is the size of the business. Smaller businesses might only require a data backup at the end of the day, while larger enterprises might require consistent incremental backups throughout the day.

Disaster Recovery Sites

Another aspect of a DRP is a disaster recovery site. This is a physical location where the company can operate out of until it is safe to return to work at the normal location.

Disaster recovery sites may just smaller offices where the company can locate a few key IT employees and the servers and network equipment — while the rest of the employees work remotely. It could also be full-fledged temporary office spaces where the entire company will work.

The idea of these sites is to allow the company to continue operating until it’s able to resume operations as normal, or find a new space. This could be essential if the company’s building experiences a fire, flood or other damage.

Best Practices for Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP)

If you’ve never disaster recovery plan before, you can follow these best practices to get started.

Create a Crisis Communication Plan

When disaster strikes, people are going to experience a lot of confusion, and many will feel overwhelmed, worried, concerned and possibly even anxious. Clear and constant communication in these instances is essential.

You want to ensure that your employees remain calm and know that a solid plan is in place, and you also need to communicate to them what that plan is. They don’t need to know about the nitty-gritty of what data was lost and what technical steps you’re taking to recover it.

They just need to know that a problem has occurred, that you’re working on it and that you will communicate updates to them when you have them. They also need to have clear instructions on how they are to work — and where they are to work from — in the meantime as you’re working on recovery.

Risk assessment 

It’s always important to plan ahead. By conducting a risk assessment, you’ll be able to adequately prepare for the real and actual risks your company faces. 

These risks could include natural phenomenon and also man-made disasters. By identifying what potential threats your company is most likely to face, you can put specific plans in place to respond to each.

Your DRP, for example, would likely include a different response to a blizzard that knocks out all communications than it would to a security breach that shuts down all your systems.

Identifying the scope of the DRP

What exactly is going to be included in your DRP? It’s vital that your plan includes not just the steps that you are going to take to get back up and running, but the people who are going to be responsible for every task.

All DRPs need to have a full list of tasks, in a step-by-step format, as well as an assignment of responsibilities for each one. Doing this will provide the clearest method possible to full recovery.

Restoration of Services

The number one goal in a DRP is reducing the time it takes to fully restore services, and protecting as much data as possible in the meantime. There are many ways that you can do this nowadays, and whatever you decide will go into your DRP.

Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery 

It’s becoming increasingly popular for companies to have a cloud-based disaster recovery site and plan in place. This is essentially a separate location where servers and IT infrastructure will be located that serves as the backup in case the main location goes down.

By putting the data in the cloud, it ensures that everyone will have access to it no matter where they are working from. So, in essence, even if your physical site isn’t accessible, employees can still get what they need to continue operations.

Scope and objectives of DR planning

As mentioned, the objective of a DRP is to minimize downtime and data loss. Ultimately, you want to be back up and running as soon as possible so that the disruptions to your business operations are kept in check.

For some businesses, this plan might be short and simple. For others, it could be very comprehensive and total into the hundreds of pages. 

A lot of this will be dependent on the type of business you run, how much data it has, how large it is and the amount of data it keeps.

Inventory of Hardware and Software

One key part of any DRP is a full inventory of the key hardware and software that’s needed to keep the business running. Knowing this will allow you to “shift” the main IT services of your company to a new location if the old server system is down or can’t be reached.

BCDR: Business continuity and disaster recovery guide or playbook

A BCDR, or business continuity and disaster recovery guide, will provide clear, actionable steps that your company can take to ensure business continuity as well as the specific procedures that should be taken if recovery is needed.

This plan outlines all steps necessary to ensure your business remains operational if disaster strikes, and also integrates elements such as how to minimize data loss and downtime.

Extra security and data protection solutions

One of the most effective ways to reduce data loss and downtime after a disaster is to put extra security and data protection solutions in place beforehand. The best defense against data loss and downtime is prevention, in other words.

Going through the DRP process will help you identify potential risks, and this can guide you on what extra security and protection solutions might be most appropriate for your business.

Ensure business resilience

By having this prevention plan and these tools in place, it will help improve your business resilience. That’s because your downtime and data loss will likely be less than it would be without it, allowing your company and its employees to bounce back and recovery quickly.

Reduced recovery costs

A major side benefit to all of this is that the less time you’re down and the less data you lose, the less it costs to recover from a disaster. Almost any disaster is going to cause some loss of money.

How much depends on whether you have a solid DRP in place, whether your team executes it properly and whether you have security and data protection solutions in place to minimize the damage.