DR and Business Continuity
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Aren’t Interchangeable Terms – They’re Two Different (and Essential) Business Strategies
Although many organizations conflate DR strategies with business continuity, these two strategies are not the same. While Disaster Recovery (DR) strategies are critical for all organizations to recover data after a disaster, simply having a DR strategy in place isn’t enough to get your business up and running after a disaster. Business continuity, though similar to disaster recovery, is about restoring business operations.
Where a DR strategy may be about recovering your data, a business continuity strategy ensures that employees can continue to work and customers can continue to deliver service during and immediately following a disaster. For example: a professional service’s DR strategy might be about recovering client files while their business continuity strategy would be about ensuring employees can service accounts and stay in client communication, even if the office is inaccessible.
DR and business continuity are two interdependent but ultimately separate strategies every business needs to recover information and restore operations after a disaster. In many cases, the business continuity strategy informs and determines many elements of the DR strategy. IT leaders who are in the process of reevaluating both should consider these factors:
What applications are mission-critical? In mid-sized firms with a vast inventory of applications running at any given time, it will take time to bring each application back online. One of the business continuity decisions firms need to make is to decide which ones should be prioritized first and which can come back later. Based on this decision, a DR strategy can ensure that applications critical for business continuity come back online sooner.
What data is mission-critical? In an ideal world, every organization might protect all data with high availability replication—but this strategy is far too expensive for most firms. Instead, many firms will decide which data needs to be recovered first and then choose a mix of SAN-based replication, host-based replication, rapid recovery backup (on site), archiving, or remote backup to a hybrid cloud service provider for different types of applications.
Does your team need to make any changes about how you manage data? A true business continuity strategy will take into consideration not just how you’ll recover after an emergency but how your business operates before an emergency. One important consideration is how and where your employees store data and whether their data storage habits are likely to help or hinder recovery. For example: many teams store data in their email instead of a designated storage location, which can make recovering both data and email a time-consuming process.
News of a major natural disaster or a massive cyber attack often puts “disaster recovery planning” at the top of meeting agendas for IT leaders around the world. Even though DR planning should be an ongoing strategy subject to regular reviews, many businesses often treat is as a problem to solve, set aside, and return to again in the future. Both your DR strategy and your business continuity should always be evolving as your business adds new applications, divisions, and locations—and as the threats facing your business evolve at the same time.