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. 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. Once you have a DR plan in place, the ONLY way to know whether you’re going to be able to recover from a variety of disasters is to simulate some, in production. Doing an initial test when the DR plan is first produced is great, because at least you know that it works, or there are some things you’ve missed (which is almost invariably the case).
Based on the size and complexity of your IT infrastructure, disaster recovery testing activities should address recovery of hardware, software, data and databases, network services, data centre facilities, people (for example, relocation of staff to an alternate site), and the business. Basic disaster recovery testing begins with a desktop walk-through activity, in which DR team members review DR plans step by step to see if they make sense and to fully understand their roles and responsibilities in a disaster. The next kind of test, a simulated recovery, impacts specific systems and infrastructure elements.
Demonstrate that critical ICT services can be maintained and recovered within agreed service levels or recovery objectives regardless of the incident. Provide staff members with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the recovery process.
Nonetheless, the components to integrated business continuity are the same: recovery options for facilities, technology, network infrastructure and human skills. There are two main reasons why organizations do not test their disaster recovery plans regularly.
Depending on the size and complexity of the computer facility, it may not be appropriate to conduct all testing phases.
ISO 22301 defines requirements to plan, establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and continually improve a documented management system to prepare for, respond to and recover from disruptive events when they arise.
RTO and RPO) then your DR plan actually has to work, no matter how carefully you’ve designed it. Even though the components of a perfect disaster recovery plan may exist, at the time of crisis they could be rendered useless in a matter of minutes.
These plans did not address the need for continuous operation of key business processes in distributed computing environment. I think I’ve only been involved with and heard of a few successful disaster scenarios. The exercise is generally a brief one, taking approximately two hours to conduct, and is designed to look at the worst case for equipment, ensuring the entire plan process is reviewed. You know who you are – go get a DR plan before a disaster happens and you lose time, data, your job, or all of the above. Lots of people interchange DR and high-availability (HA), but HA is really a set of technologies that you implement to help protect against disasters causing problems.
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. Areas to look at are availability of alternate work areas within the same site, at a different company location, at a third-party-provided location, at employees’ homes or at a transportable work facility. 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.
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. 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. After you develop DR plans, disaster recovery awareness and testing strategies ensure the plan works and that everyone knows their role within it.
Operational exercises extend the simulated recovery test to a wider scale, typically testing end-to-end recovery of multiple systems, both internal and external, the associated network infrastructures that support connectivity of those assets, and the facilities that house primary and backup systems.
Demonstrate that critical ICT services can be restored to pre-test state in the event of an incident at the recovery location. Verify that ICT DR plans are synchronised with the ICT infrastructures and business environment. With good planning, a great deal of disaster recovery testing can be accomplished with modest expenditure.
To achieve the first objective, a computer system of similar capacity and speed must be available for the estimated RTO as stipulated in the plan.
Disaster Recovery and Business continuity strategy: After requirements have been established through the BIA and the risk assessment, strategies can be developed to identify arrangements that will enable the organization to protect and recover critical activities based on organizational risk tolerance and within defined recovery time objectives. Disaster recovery efforts of the present multivendor, multiplatform environment require a plan designed for integrated business continuity.
Disaster recovery testing will ensure that all your efforts to provide recovery and resilience will indeed protect critical IT assets. The aim of module testing is to verify the validity and functionality of the recovery procedures when multiple components are combined. Key business initiatives such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management, customer relationship management and e-business have made continuous, ubiquitous access to information crucial to an organization. For instance, you might implement database mirroring so that part of the DR plan for a database is to failover to the mirror, keeping the database highly-available, while DR happens on the old principal.
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. 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. The more detailed the plan is, the more likely the affected IT asset will be recovered and returned to normal operation. And since DR planning generates a significant amount of documentation, records management (and change management) activities should also be initiated.

Once you have drawn up a detailed disaster recovery plan, the next stages in the project are twofold: to prepare and deliver disaster recovery awareness and training programmes so all employees are prepared to respond as required by the plan in an emergency, and to to carry out disaster recovery testing to ensure the plan works properly and that DR teams know their roles and responsibilities. Build confidence throughout the organisation that resilience and recovery strategies will satisfy the business requirements.
Once your DR plans have been tested and your awareness and training plans have been initiated, the next steps are to initiate a maintenance programme and initiate an audit and review programme.
Your disaster recovery plan could be as simple as restoring from the last full database backup, or as complicated as failing over all processing to a remote data center and engaging a 3rd-party company to distribute new DNS routing entries across the Internet.
It is when a series of components are combined without individual tests that difficulties occur.Examples of module tests include alternate site activation, system recovery, network recovery, application recovery, database recovery and run production processing. If you can push for a DR plan test and everything works, everyone has increased peace of mind. This section defines the criteria for launching the plan, what data is needed and who makes the determination.
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. Perhaps the most important strategy in raising disaster recovery awareness is to secure senior management support and funding for DR programmes.
Failure to prepare for it can give an otherwise ideal model a theoretical name and spell disaster for those associated with the discharge of its responsibilities. Exercising and testing: To ensure that disaster recovery and business continuity procedures are consistent with their objectives, an organization should test them regularly. If one is able to test all modules, even if unable to perform a full test, then one can be confident that the business will survive a major disaster.
If you can push for a DR plan test and things go south, you’ll be praised for having exposed the problems.
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 most important strategy in disaster recovery testing is simply to test, test and test again.
The attacks on America have brought home the realization of the horrors of disaster when it strikes. Disaster Recovery Business Continuity Template (WORD) - comes with the latest electronic forms and is fully compliant with all mandated US, EU, and ISO requirements. Neither of these are doing DR, they’re preventing a disaster from affecting availability. In the aftermath of 11 September 2001, as organizations began to build through the process of responding, reconstructing, restoring and recovering, they realized that classic recovery planning that focused on how to restore centralized data centers was far from adequate for contemporary businesses. Included with the template are Electronic Forms which have been designed to lower the cost of maintenance of the plan. Business continuity and disaster recovery are so vital to business success that they no longer remain a concern of the IT department alone. Rather depressingly, 35% of respondents either don’t have a DR plan or have one but have never tested it. The events of 11 September have forced organizations to review their disaster recovery plans, especially in light of new technology.
Disaster recovery efforts of the past were designed to provide backup options for centralized data centers.

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