What do you do when your business or company’s information technology (IT) stops working? What if a literal natural or man-made disaster strikes, like a hurricane or an EMP burst, and your IT is hopefully figuratively left in the dust? Well, that’s when IT disaster recovery comes in. IT disaster recovery is defined as the practice of anticipating, planning for, surviving, and recovering from any disaster that may affect a business or company’s IT and related systems. Many businesses and companies utilize IT to quickly and effectively process information. Employees can use electronic mail, telephone systems, and file storage & synchronization services for data sharing and communication. They also use desktop computers, laptops, and wireless devices to produce, process, manage and relay information. For the transmission of data, including orders and payments, electronic data interchange (EDI) is utilized. Large amounts of electronic information or data are stored and processed by servers either within or outside the main business or company site (on-site or off-site).
Businesses of all sizes produce and handle multitudes of data and information – much of which is needed for the business to function and operate at its best. Data loss or corruption from hacking, malware, hardware failure, or human error can prove too ruinous for any company or business. Plans for data backup and restoration are essential. Developing an IT disaster recovery plan (IT DRP) should be in conjunction with developing a business continuity plan. Businesses and companies should develop technology recovery strategies to safeguard their systems from all kinds of untoward situations.
On IT Disaster Recovery
IT systems require the following components: hardware, software, data, and connectivity. Without one “system component,” the system may not run. Therefore, the ones behind the company or business, along with other specialists, should develop recovery strategies to anticipate the loss or malfunction of one or more of their system components:
- a company or business’s computer room
- company hardware (networks, servers, computers, wireless devices)
- company software applications (electronic mail and resource management, for example)
- Internet connectivity (usually provided by a service provider)
Any good IT disaster recovery plan enables businesses and companies to respond quickly to all sorts of untoward situations that affect IT and take immediate action to reduce damage to systems and resume operations as swiftly as possible.
A good IT disaster recovery plan usually comprises the following:
- Critical IT assets – their maximum allowed outage time should be known
- IT disaster recovery team – absolutely important, along with their contact information and communication procedures
- Emergency procedures – staff members can carry them out when a disaster happens
- Tools or technologies – utilized for IT disaster recovery
Companies and businesses have to develop an IT disaster recovery plan. The development of such plans starts with the compilation of data, hardware inventory (e.g., computers, servers, and wireless devices & peripherals), and software applications. The IT DR plan should have a strategy that ensures that all critical information is backed up. Next, the identification of critical software applications and data, and the hardware required to run them, is crucial. Then, ensure that program software copies are available to enable re-installation on replacement equipment. Finally, hardware and software restoration prioritization should be the next step. It is also important to document the IT disaster recovery plan as part of the business continuity plan and test the IT DR plan periodically to ensure it works.
Remember, making an IT disaster recovery plan entails:
- Risk identification
- Vulnerability assessments in relation to identified risks
- Business impact determination
- Identification of critical business processes and IT services
- Designing and implementing mitigation strategies
- Agreeing on when IT disaster recovery plans should be activated
Restoration and Recovery
There are some applications used by a company or business that cannot tolerate any downtime or lag. Therefore, the utilization of dual data centers capable of handling all data processing needs, which run parallel with data synchronized between the two centers, becomes crucial – a very expensive solution that only larger companies can afford. However, other solutions are available for small to medium-sized businesses with critical business applications and data to protect.
There are numerous companies and businesses with access to more than one facility. When needed, hardware at an alternate facility can be configured to run similar hardware and software applications. Data restoration at an alternate site is possible if data is backed off-site or mirrored between the two sites, and processing can continue. A managed services provider can be responsible for this as well.
IT disaster recovery strategies are essential for a company or business’s data, IT systems, and software applications. Consistency in the priorities for IT disaster recovery and the priorities for the recovery of the developed business functions and processes are also important for IT DR strategies to work, along with the matching of the recovery time for IT resources and the target recovery time for the business function or process related to any specific IT resource.