Operating with an insufficient DR plan leaves organizations vulnerable to negative business impacts in the event of a disaster.
Having too much DR capability means the organization is overspending and having too little means the organization is still vulnerable in the event of a disaster. This paper discusses an approach for creating a good disaster recovery plan for a business enterprise. The process of preparing a disaster recovery plan begins by identifying these causes and effects, analyzing their likelihood and severity, and ranking them in terms of their business priority. The disaster recovery plan does not stop at defining the resources or processes that need to be in place to recover from a disaster. The first step in planning recovery from unexpected disasters is to identify the threats or risks that can bring about disasters by doing risk analysis covering threats to business continuity. Water: There are certain disaster scenarios where water outages must be considered very seriously, for instance the impact of a water cutoff on computer cooling systems. The intention of this exercise is to produce a list of entities affected by failure due to disasters, which need to be addressed by the disaster recovery plan. Once the list of entities that possibly fail due to various types of disasters is prepared, the next step is to determine what is the downtime tolerance limit for each of the entities. In the case of data systems, for example, the recovery mechanism usually involves having the critical data systems replicated somewhere else in the network and putting them online with the latest backed up data available.
Figure 1 depicts the cycle of stages that lead through a disaster back to a state of normalcy. Only when these are assessed and the affected systems are identified can a recovery process begin. The effects of a disaster that strikes the entire enterprise are different from the effects of a disaster affecting a specific area, office, or utility within the company. A higher value would mean longer restoration time hence the priority of having a Disaster Recovery mechanism for this risk is higher. In Figure 3, the entities that fail due to the earthquake disaster are office facility, power system, operations staff, data systems, and telephone system. During a disaster, this committee ensures that there is proper coordination between different agencies and that the recovery processes are executed successfully and in proper sequence.
A hurricane affecting a specific geographic area, or a virus spread expected on a certain date are examples of disasters with advance notice. For an enterprise, a disaster means abrupt disruption of all or part of its business operations, which may directly result in revenue loss. And the fourth section explains what information the disaster recovery plan should contain and how to maintain the disaster recovery plan. To mitigate the risk of disruption of business operations, a recovery solution should involve disaster recovery facilities in a location away from the affected area.
Depending on the data system, there may be options of autorecovery or manual recovery, and the cost and recovery time factors of each mechanism vary. Nowadays most of the meteorological threats can be forecasted, hence the chances to mitigate effects of some natural disasters are considerable. Learn how to develop disaster recovery strategies as well as how to write a disaster recovery plan with these step-by-step instructions.
Formulating a detailed recovery plan is the main aim of the entire IT disaster recovery planning project. Once this work is out of the way, you’re ready to move on to developing disaster recovery strategies, followed by the actual plans.
Once you have identified your critical systems, RTOs, RPOs, etc, create a table, as shown below, to help you formulate the disaster recovery strategies you will use to protect them. Once your disaster recovery strategies have been developed, you’re ready to translate them into disaster recovery plans.


In addition to using the strategies previously developed, IT disaster recovery plans should form part of an incident response process that addresses the initial stages of the incident and the steps to be taken. When a disaster strikes, the normal operations of the enterprise are suspended and replaced with operations spelled out in the disaster recovery plan.
The second section of this paper explains the methods and procedures involved in the disaster recovery planning process.
Human caused: These disasters include acts of terrorism, sabotage, virus attacks, operations mistakes, crimes, and so on. Once the disaster risks have been assessed and the decision has been made to cover the most critical risks, the next step is to determine and list the likely effects of each of the disasters. It may be noticed that two or more disasters may affect the same entities, and it can be determined which entities are affected most often. The cost of downtime is the main key to calculate the investment needed in a disaster recovery plan.
Considering multiple options and variations of disaster recovery mechanisms available, it is necessary to carefully evaluate the best suitable recovery mechanism for an affected entity in a particular organization. The plan should also define how to restore operations to a normal state once the disaster's effects are mitigated. A key factor in evaluating risks associated with telephone systems is to study the telephone architecture and determine if any additional infrastructure is required to mitigate the risk of losing the entire telecommunication service during a disaster. This information becomes crucial for preparing the recovery sequence in the disaster recovery plan. Execution Phase: In this phase, the actual procedures to recover each of the disaster affected entities are executed.
At the end of this phase, recovery staff will be ready to execute contingency actions to restore system functions on a temporary basis. Effects of disasters range from small interruptions to total business shutdown for days or months, even fatal damage to the business. Recovery from this type of failure may be lengthy and expensive due to the need to replace or update software and equipment and retrain personnel. Procedures should contain the process to alert recovery personnel during business and nonbusiness hours.
After the disaster detection, a notification should be sent to the damage assessment team, so that they can assess the real damage occurred and implement subsequent actions. It is in these plans that you will set out the detailed steps needed to recover your IT systems to a state in which they can support the business after a disaster. Then, you’ll need to establish recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). Here we’ll explain how to write a disaster recovery plan as well as how to develop disaster recovery strategies.
You’ll need to identify and contract with primary and alternate suppliers for all critical systems and processes, and even the sourcing of people. Procedures should ensure an easy-to-use and repeatable process for recovering damaged IT assets and returning them to normal operation as quickly as possible.
This process can be seen as a timeline, such as in Figure 2, in which incident response actions precede disaster recovery actions. The next section should define roles and responsibilities of DR recovery team members, their contact details, spending limits (for example, if equipment has to be purchased) and the limits of their authority in a disaster situation. During the incident response process, we typically become aware of an out-of-normal situation (such as being alerted by various system-level alarms), quickly assess the situation (and any damage) to make an early determination of its severity, attempt to contain the incident and bring it under control, and notify management and other key stakeholders.
Based on the findings from incident response activities, the next step is to determine if disaster recovery plans should be launched, and which ones in particular should be invoked. Once the plan has been launched, DR teams take the materials assigned to them and proceed with response and recovery activities as specified in the plans.


Located at the end of the plan, these can include systems inventories, application inventories, network asset inventories, contracts and service-level agreements, supplier contact data, and any additional documentation that will facilitate recovery. These are essential in that they ensure employees are fully aware of DR plans and their responsibilities in a disaster, and DR team members have been trained in their roles and responsibilities as defined in the plans.
Supplier: These risks are tied to the capacity of suppliers to maintain their level of services in a disaster.
Simple "one cause multiple effects" diagrams (Figure 3) can be used as tools for specifying the effects of each of the disasters. How the disaster affected entities depend upon each other is crucial information for preparing the recovery sequence in the disaster recovery plan. The roles, responsibilities, and reporting hierarchy of different committee members should be clearly defined both during normal operations and in the case of a disaster emergency. An effective disaster recovery plan plays its role in all stages of the operations as depicted above, and it is continuously improved by disaster recovery mock drills and feedback capture processes.
This committee should have representation from all the different company agencies with a role in the disaster recovery process, typically management, finance, IT (multiple technology leads), electrical department, security department, human resources, vendor management, and so on.
The disaster recovery system cannot replace the normal working system forever, but only supports it for a short period of time.
The entities with less downtime tolerance limit should be assigned higher priorities for recovery. To minimize disaster losses, it is very important to have a good disaster recovery plan for every business subsystem and operation within an enterprise. Then define step-by-step procedures to, for example, initiate data backup to secure alternate locations, relocate operations to an alternate space, recover systems and data at the alternate sites, and resume operations at either the original site or at a new location. Here we can see the critical system and associated threat, the response strategy and (new) response action steps, as well as the recovery strategy and (new) recovery action steps.
The more detailed the plan is, the more likely the affected IT asset will be recovered and returned to normal operation.
Once the list of affected entities is prepared and each entity's business criticality and failure tendency is assessed, it is time to analyze various recovery methods available for each entity and determine the best suitable recovery method for each.
Note that not all the members of the Disaster Recovery Committee may actively participate in the actual disaster recovery. Finally, ongoing procedures for testing and improving the effectiveness of the disaster recovery system are part of a good disaster recovery plan. At the earliest possible time, the disaster recovery process must be decommissioned and the business should return to normalcy. Technology DR plans can be enhanced with relevant recovery information and procedures obtained from system vendors. Quick and precise detection of a disaster event and having an appropriate communication plan are the key for reducing the effects of the incoming emergency; in some cases it may give enough time to allow system personnel to implement actions gracefully, thus reducing the impact of the disaster. Check with your vendors while developing your DR plans to see what they have in terms of emergency recovery documentation. This is a presentation on the personal safety aspects of disaster recovery and disaster recovery planning. The best strategy is to have some kind of disaster recovery plan in place, to return to normal after the disaster has struck. Though both concepts are related to business continuity, high availability is about providing undisrupted continuity of operations whereas disaster recovery involves some amount of downtime, typically measured in days. The ultimate results are a formal assessment of risk, a disaster recovery plan that includes all available recovery mechanisms, and a formalized Disaster Recovery Committee that has responsibility for rehearsing, carrying out, and improving the disaster recovery plan.



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