Disaster Recovery Planning is the critical factor that can prevent headaches or nightmares experienced by an organization in times of disaster. Having a disaster recovery plan marks the difference between organizations that can successfully manage crises with minimal cost, effort and with maximum speed, and those organizations that cannot. By having back-up plans, not only for equipment and network recovery, but also detailed disaster recovery plans that precisely outline what steps each person involved in recovery efforts should undertake, an organization can improve their recovery time and minimize the disrupted time for their normal business functions. Thus it is essential that disaster recovery plans are carefully laid out and carefully updated regularly. Part of the plan should include a system where regular training occurs for network engineers and managers. In the disaster recovery process extra attention should also be paid to training any new employees who will have a critical role in this function. Also, the plan should require having the appropriate people actually practice what they would do to help recover business function should a disaster occur. Some organizations find it helpful to do this on a quarterly or semi-annual basis so that the plan stays current with the organization’s needs.
Business continuity planning and Disaster recovery planning are terms companies sometimes use interchangeably. Although they can be considered related, they are not the same thing. The "Disaster Recovery Plan" deals more with the restoration of computer systems, software and connections to full functionality under a variety of damaging or interfering external conditions. Business Continuity is a more comprehensive approach from a business point-of-view to ensure that the business continues to make money not only during a nature disaster but when dealing with daily issues, such as a failed disk, server or DB, and/or possibly a bad communications line. Business Continuity is often referred to as the measure of lost time possible in a mission critical application.
As a consultant brought into an organization concerned about business continuity I would recommend to first perform a Risk Assessment Analysis and/or Business Impact Analysis (BIA). Conducting a business impact analysis will allow an organization to know the system or application’s downtime tolerance. The analysis will identify all systems and applications that can experience little to no downtime. Conducting risk assessment analysis will allow the organization to identify all the risks at the beginning and during the life of the organization, and grade the risks in terms of likelihood of occurring and seriousness of impact on the organization. Either analysis is an excellent tool and will result in the beginning creations of disaster recovery and business continuity planning. If using the BIA method a good first step is identifying the business’ most crucial systems and...