IT Disaster Recovery

Disaster can strike a business at any moment. Research shows that without preparation and data protection, over 50% of businesses will not survive a major disaster. It is crucial to assess your IT infrastructure and understand what information security measures you can take to decrease the damage caused by a disaster and recover operations quickly. Learn about four essential elements you must include in your disaster recovery program for it to be effective.

In this article you will learn:

What is Disaster Recovery?

IT disaster recovery is the practice of anticipating, planning for, surviving, and recovering from a disaster that may affect a business. Disasters can include:

  • Natural events like earthquakes or hurricanes
  • Failure of equipment or infrastructure, such as a power outage or hard disk failure
  • Man-made calamities such as accidental erasure of data or loss of equipment
  • Cyber attacks by hackers or malicious insiders

An IT disaster recovery plan enables businesses to respond quickly to a disaster and take immediate action to reduce damage, and resume operations as quickly as possible.

A disaster recovery plan typically includes:

  • Emergency procedures staff can carry out when a disaster occurs
  • Critical IT assets and their maximum allowed outage time
  • Tools or technologies that should be used for recovery
  • A disaster recovery team, their contact information and communication procedures (e.g. who should be notified in case of disaster)

Why is IT Disaster Recovery Important?

Drafting a disaster recovery plan, and ensuring you have the right staff in place to carry it out, can have the following benefits:

  • Minimize interruption – in the event of a disaster, even if it is completely unexpected, your business can continue operating with minimal interruption.
  • Limit damages – a disaster will inevitably cause damage, but you can control the extent of damage caused. For example, in hurricane-prone areas, businesses plan to move all sensitive equipment off the floor and into a room with no windows.
  • Training and preparation – having a disaster recovery program in place means your staff is trained to react in case of a disaster. This preparation will lower stress levels and give your team a clear plan of action when an event occurs.
  • Restoration of services – having a solid disaster recovery plan means you can restore all mission-critical services to their normal state in a short period of time. Your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) will determine the longest time you are willing to wait until service is restored.

4 Essential Features of an IT Disaster Recovery Program

Here are four things you must include in your disaster recovery plan and process, to ensure your business continuity.

1. Know Your Threats

Learn about the history of your business, the industry, and the region, and map out the threats you are most likely to face. These should include natural disasters, geopolitical events like wars or civil unrest, failure to critical equipment like servers, Internet connections or software, and cyber attacks that are most likely to affect your type of business.

Ensure your disaster recovery plan is effective against all, or at least the most likely or most significant threats. If necessary, develop separate DR plans or separate sections within your DR plan for specific types of disasters.

2. Know Your Assets

It’s important to be comprehensive. Get your team together and make a big list of all the assets that are important for the day-to-day operations of your business. In the IT sphere this includes network equipment, servers, workstations, software, cloud services, mobile devices, and more. Once you have your list organize it into:

  • Critical assets your business cannot operate without – for example, an email server
  • Important assets that can seriously hamper some activities – for example, a projector used for presentations
  • Other assets that will not have a major effect on the business – for example, a recreational system used by employees on their lunch break

Define your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) for critical assets. What period of downtime can you sustain? For example, a high traffic eCommerce site sustains major financial damage for every minute of downtime. An accounting firm may be able to sustain a day or two of downtime and resume normal operations, provided there is no data loss. Build a process and obtain technological means that can help you bring operations back online within the RTO.

3. Replicate Data

A cornerstone of almost every IT disaster recovery plan is having a way to replicate data. While many businesses schedule periodic data backups, for disaster recovery purposes, the preferred approach is to continuously replicate data to another system. Data may be replicated to:

On-Site Cold Storage

A backup device within your data center.

On-Site Warm Backup

A redundant operational unit in your data center, for example, a secondary server.

Off-Site Cold Storage

A backup device in a remote data center, or cloud storage with high latency, involving a delay or extra cost to retrieve data.

Off-Site Warm Backup

A redundant operational unit in a remote data center, or cloud storage with low latency, enabling immediate data access.

Local storage is less resilient to disaster but gives you a shorter RTO. It also allows you to replicate or backup data more frequently, improving your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – meaning you can restore your data from almost every point in time.

4. Test Backups and Restoration of Services

Just like business systems can fail in a disaster, so can backups. There are many horror stories of organizations that had a backup system in place but discovered too late that backups were not actually working properly. A configuration problem, software error or equipment failure can render your backups useless, and you may never know it unless you test them.

An inseparable part of any disaster recovery plan is to test that data is being replicated correctly to the target location. It’s just as important to test that it’s possible to restore data back to your production site. These tests must be conducted once when you set up your disaster recovery apparatus and repeated periodically to ensure the setup is still working.

Replicate and Protect Data Effortlessly with Cloudian

Do you need to backup data to on-premises storage, as part of your disaster recovery setup? Cloudian offers a low-cost disk-based storage technology that lets you backup data locally with a capacity of up to 1.5 petabytes. You can also set up a Cloudian appliance in a remote site and use our integrated data management tools to save data there.

on-premises backup target

Another deployment option is a hybrid cloud configuration. You can backup data to a local Cloudian appliance, then replicate to the cloud for DR purposes. This combines the low latency of local storage with the resilience of the cloud.

hybrid cloud disaster recovery

Learn more about Cloudian’s data protection solutions.

Learn More About IT Disaster Recovery

IT disaster recovery is the practice of anticipating, planning for, surviving, and recovering from a disaster that may affect a business. Disasters can include natural events like earthquakes or hurricanes, equipment or infrastructure failures, such as a power outage, man-made accidents like accidental erasure of data or loss of equipment.

There’s a lot more to learn about IT disaster recovery. To continue your research, take a look at the rest of our blogs on this topic:

The Easy Way to Create Your Own IT Disaster Recovery Plan

A disaster recovery plan is a document that helps organizations react to a disaster, take actions to prevent damages, and recover operations. IT disaster recovery is a subset of disaster recovery, which focuses on IT aspects like reducing server and database downtime, and bringing critical systems back online. An IT disaster recovery plan enumerates the tools and procedures to make this happen.

This article reviews the typical structure of an IT disaster recovery plan and gives tips for creating one for your organization.

Read more: The Easy Way to Create Your Own IT Disaster Recovery Plan

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans in Action

A business continuity plan details how a business will continue operating and serving its customers, even in the face of an event like a natural disaster, IT failure, or a cyberattack. The end goal is to preserve a company’s financial viability, market position, reputation, and customers, even in the face of a crisis.

The terms business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan are sometimes used interchangeably. However, a disaster recovery plan is an important section within a business continuity plan. This article defines the concept of business continuity, explains how a business continuity plan differs from a disaster recovery plan, and shows a real-life example of a business continuity plan.

Read more: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans in Action

See Our Additional Guides on Key Data Storage Topics:

We have authored in-depth guides on several other data storage and information security topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of IT disaster recovery.

Data Protection Guide

Data protection relies on technologies such as data loss prevention (DLP), storage with built-in data protection, firewalls, encryption, and endpoint protection. Learn what is the difference between data protection and data privacy, and how to leverage best practice to ensure the continual protection of your data.

See top articles in our data protection guide:

Data Backup Guide

Data backup is a practice that combines techniques and solutions for efficient and cost-effective backup. Your data is copied to one or more locations, at pre-determined frequencies, and at different capacities. Learn what a data backup is and how it differs from archiving, what benefits it offers, and what considerations you should take before deploying data backup solutions

See top articles in our data backup guide:

Hybrid IT Guide

Hybrid IT is a blend of on-premise and cloud-based services that has emerged with the increasing migration of businesses to cloud environments. Learn about hybrid IT, implementation solutions, and practices, and discover how Cloudian can help optimize your implementation.

See top articles in our Hybrid IT guide:

VMware Storage Guide

VMware provides a variety of ways for virtual machines to access storage. It supports multiple traditional storage models including SAN, NFS and Fiber Channel (FC), which allow virtualized applications to access storage resources in the same way as they would on a regular physical machine.

See top articles in our VMware storage guide:

Health Data Management Guide

Health Data Management (HDM), also known as Health Information Management (HIM) is the systematic organization of health data in digital form. Learn what is health data management, the types of data it encompasses, unique challenges and considerations for storing Petabytes of health data.

See top articles in our health data management guide:

Splunk Architecture Guide

Splunk is a distributed system that aggregates, parses and analyses log data. This article explains how the Splunk big data pipeline works, how components like the forwarder, indexer and search head interact, and the different topologies you can use to scale your Splunk deployment.

See top articles in our splunk architecture guide: