In most organizations, Disaster Recovery Planning is the quintessential complex, unfamiliar task. All Business Continuity Disaster Recovery Planning efforts need to encompass how employees will communicate, where they will go and how they will keep doing their jobs. But the critical point is that neither element can be ignored, and physical, IT and human resources plans cannot be developed in isolation from each other. The Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is that tool which can be used as a Disaster Planning Template for any size of enterprise. The Disaster Planning Template and supporting material have been updated to be Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA compliant.
Preparation for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity in light of SOX has two primary parts. Disaster Recovery Business Continuity Template (WORD) - comes with the latest electronic forms and is fully compliant with all mandated US, EU, and ISO requirements. Included with the template are Electronic Forms which have been designed to lower the cost of maintenance of the plan.
Work Plan to modify and implement the template. Included is a list of deliverables for each task. Click on the link below to get the Disaster Planning and Business Continuity Planning Template full table of contents and selected sample pages now and make it part of your Disaster Recovery Planning toolkit. 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.
When a disaster strikes, the normal operations of the enterprise are suspended and replaced with operations spelled out in the disaster recovery plan.
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 second section of this paper explains the methods and procedures involved in the disaster recovery planning process. 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. Human caused: These disasters include acts of terrorism, sabotage, virus attacks, operations mistakes, crimes, and so on. Supplier: These risks are tied to the capacity of suppliers to maintain their level of services in a disaster.
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. 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.
Simple "one cause multiple effects" diagrams (Figure 3) can be used as tools for specifying the effects of each of the disasters.
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. 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.
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. The cost of downtime is the main key to calculate the investment needed in a disaster recovery plan. How the disaster affected entities depend upon each other is crucial information for preparing the recovery sequence in the disaster recovery plan.
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. 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. 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 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. Note that not all the members of the Disaster Recovery Committee may actively participate in the actual disaster recovery. 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.
The notification procedure defines the primary measures taken as soon as a disruption or emergency has been detected or definitely predicted. Not sure about your existing Backup Solution, we can review your current environment and make recommendations for effectively protecting your data.
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 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. The following section details the elements in a DR plan in the sequence defined by ISO 27031 and ISO 24762. Important: Best-in-class DR plans should begin with a few pages that summarise key action steps (such as where to assemble employees if forced to evacuate the building) and lists of key contacts and their contact information for ease of authorising and launching the plan. 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. 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. 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.


A section on plan document dates and revisions is essential, and should include dates of revisions, what was revised and who approved the revisions.
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. 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.
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. This section should specify who has approved the plan, who is authorised to activate it and a list of linkages to other relevant plans and documents. And since DR planning generates a significant amount of documentation, records management (and change management) activities should also be initiated. Technology DR plans can be enhanced with relevant recovery information and procedures obtained from system vendors. If your organisation already has records management and change management programmes, use them in your DR planning. Disaster recovery risk assessment and business impact analysis (BIA) are crucial steps in the development of a disaster recovery plan. As you can see from The IT Disaster Recovery Lifecycle illustration, the IT disaster recovery process has a standard process flow. Detailed response planning and the other key parts of disaster recovery planning, such as plan maintenance, are, however, outside the scope of this article so let us get back to looking at disaster recovery risk assessment and business impact assessment in detail. If staff relocation to a third-party hot site or other alternate space is necessary, procedures must be developed for those activities. The more detailed the plan is, the more likely the affected IT asset will be recovered and returned to normal operation.
Included within this part of the plan should be assembly areas for staff (primary and alternates), procedures for notifying and activating DR team members, and procedures for standing down the plan if management determines the DR plan response is not needed.
Check with your vendors while developing your DR plans to see what they have in terms of emergency recovery documentation. The RTO defines the length of time that is allowed to pass between system failure and repair before the consequences of the service interruption become unacceptable.The recovery point objective, or RPO, is the maximum amount of data allowed to be lost, measured in time.
If you’re maintaining a data center, maintain an off-site failover device to monitor your system health and reroute traffic in real-time, to another data center if your data center experiences failure.ConclusionIn the end, businesses are far safer implementing disaster recovery plans in their operations. It ensures synchronization of data and backups across distributed infrastructure to keep your business continually running smoothly in the event of hard drive failure, or any other number of IT disasters. The benefit of a investing either in infrastructure or a monthly subscription – in the case of SME-oriented cloud services – to protect yourself from disaster is definitely worth the investment compared to the potential loss of revenue and the damage to your reputation as a result of downtime or online security issues.
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. 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 plan should also define how to restore operations to a normal state once the disaster's effects are mitigated.
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. 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 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. Different secure access and authorization procedures, manual as well as automated ones, are enforced in enterprises. The likelihood that something happens should be considered in a long plan period, such as 5 years. 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. This information becomes crucial for preparing the recovery sequence in the disaster recovery plan. 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.
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. Execution Phase: In this phase, the actual procedures to recover each of the disaster affected entities are executed. Reconstitution Phase: In this phase the original system is restored and execution phase procedures are stopped. A hurricane affecting a specific geographic area, or a virus spread expected on a certain date are examples of disasters with advance notice.
At the end of this phase, recovery staff will be ready to execute contingency actions to restore system functions on a temporary basis. A notification policy must describe procedures to be followed when specific personnel cannot be contacted. The call tree should document primary and alternate contact methods and should include procedures to be followed if an individual cannot be contacted.
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.


Then, you’ll need to establish recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). 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. If DR plans are to be invoked, incident response activities can be scaled back or terminated, depending on the incident, allowing for launch of the DR plans.
This section defines the criteria for launching the plan, what data is needed and who makes the determination. To do that, let us remind ourselves of the overall goals of disaster recovery planning, which are to provide strategies and procedures that can help return IT operations to an acceptable level of performance as quickly as possible following a disruptive event.
Following the BIA and risk assessment, the next steps are to define, build and test detailed disaster recovery plans that can be invoked in case disaster actually strikes the organisation’s critical IT assets. However, for small businesses, disaster recovery may be deemed costly or an unnecessary expense.Disaster recovery is an important aspect of business continuity. Those events with the highest risk factor are the ones your disaster recovery plan should primarily aim to address.
Naturally, from a fiscal standpoint, it makes sense to build disaster recovery into your organization's budget, and with monthly subscriptions that range from less than $100 to a few hundred dollars for a cloud-based DR solution, it’s more affordable than you may realize.Disaster Recovery Concepts to Implement in Your BusinessOne reason why many small businesses skip over disaster recovery is a lack of understanding of its basic concepts. It will outline several disaster scenarios, define the detailed responses to each while aiming to keep impact to a minimum. What's more, the myriad interconnected data, application and other resources that must be recovered after a disaster make recovery an exceptionally difficult and error-prone effort. For some businesses, issues such as supply chain logistics are most crucial and are the focus on the plan. The second is to clearly and expressly document all these procedures so that in the event of a SOX audit, the auditors clearly see that the Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan exists and appropriately protects the data and assets of the enterprise..
For an enterprise, a disaster means abrupt disruption of all or part of its business operations, which may directly result in revenue loss. Effects of disasters range from small interruptions to total business shutdown for days or months, even fatal damage to the business.
The disaster recovery system cannot replace the normal working system forever, but only supports it for a short period of time.
Finally, ongoing procedures for testing and improving the effectiveness of the disaster recovery system are part of a good disaster recovery plan. 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.
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.
The entities with less downtime tolerance limit should be assigned higher priorities for recovery. 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. Procedures should contain the process to alert recovery personnel during business and nonbusiness hours.
Here we’ll explain how to write a disaster recovery plan as well as how to develop disaster recovery strategies. 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.
Then consider site security, staff access procedures, ID badges and the location of the alternate space relative to the primary site. Having established our mission, and assuming we have management approval and funding for a disaster recovery initiative, we can establish a project plan. The concepts of disaster recovery may have a technical nature, but aren’t as complex as one may believe.The recovery time objective, or RTO, is the maximum desired length of time between an unexpected failure or disaster and the resumption of normal operations and service levels.
Even if you have never built a Disaster Recovery plan before, you can achieve great results. For others, information technology may play a more pivotal role, and the Business Continuity Disaster Recovery Plan may have more of a focus on systems 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. At the earliest possible time, the disaster recovery process must be decommissioned and the business should return to normalcy. Nowadays most of the meteorological threats can be forecasted, hence the chances to mitigate effects of some natural disasters are considerable. 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.
This process can be seen as a timeline, such as in Figure 2, in which incident response actions precede disaster recovery actions. A disaster recovery project has a fairly consistent structure, which makes it easy to organise and conduct plan development activity.
Those with on-premises infrastructure will often invest in additional disaster-recovery tools, such as remote backups, archives, etc.
Just follow the DR Template that Janco has created and you will have a functioning plan before you know it.
But, before we look at them in detail, we need to locate disaster recovery risk assessment and business impact assessment in the overall planning process.
Such plans provide a step-by-step process for responding to a disruptive event with steps designed to provide an easy-to-use and repeatable process for recovering damaged IT assets to normal operation as quickly as possible.



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