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  • Eric Brackett

The Ultimate Guide on Disaster Recovery

Learn the ins and outs of disaster recovery and discover how to correctly plan and implement a disaster recovery strategy within your organization to keep your data safe, reduce costs, reach operational success, and boost your revenue!


Server racks IT disaster recovery concept art.

Table of Contents 



What is Disaster Recovery? Explained for Beginners

Disaster recovery is the process of backing up your company's data and computer processing power to ensure your information remains safe in case of natural disasters, cyber-attacks, human error, and other events that could disrupt your business operations.

Typically, backups are stored in a second secure location to avoid any surprises and ensure your data is protected. In the ideal scenario, a computer processing backup should also be in your remote location to ensure you can continue with your operations regardless of any disruptions.


What is Considered a Disaster in the Context of Disaster Recovery?  

A disaster is every event that disrupts or completely stops your business operations. Some examples of disaster from an IT disaster recovery perspective include:  


  • Natural disasters: Floods, earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, wildfires, hurricanes, pandemics, and more. 

  • Cyber Attacks: Phishing scams, ransomware attacks, DDoS attacks, malware.  

  • Human Caused Threats: Biochemical attacks, terrorist attacks, wars.  

  • Technological Hazards: Power outages, transportation accidents, dam failures, fires.  

  • Machine & Hardware Failure: Motherboard failures, HDD failures, power supply failures, etc.  

 

The Importance of IT Disaster Recovery Plans: Why Do You Need One?

Having an IT disaster recovery strategy is crucial to ensure smooth and continuous operations, especially today when 99% of companies depend on multiple software, applications, and internet connectivity to remain operational.


The rise of cloud environments and remote and hybrid work models has significantly increased the importance of having effective disaster recovery plans in place.


With organizations shifting towards hybrid and remote work environments, having a disaster recovery strategy is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for every organization, especially those who heavily rely on cloud-based resources.


Neglecting the importance of network disaster recovery plans not only leaves your organization exposed to multiple cyber threats. Security frameworks such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, and SOC 2 now have specific data disaster recovery requirements.


Not having an effective DR strategy can result in compliance violations, expensive fines, and the inability to partner with certain organizations.


Disaster recovery services promotional image from BTI.

How Does Disaster Recovery Work?  

An effective data disaster recovery plan must be:   

  • Preventive 

  • Detective 

  • Corrective 

 

Preventive 

"Preventive" entails adopting a proactive approach to creating and maintaining your disaster recovery (DR) plan. This involves avoiding poor practices and taking measures to prevent disruptions from occurring. 


Continuously monitoring your IT infrastructure will allow you to uncover any potential drawbacks and uncover any potential vulnerabilities within your network.  

 

Detective 

The term 'detective' refers to the capability to identify, respond to, and mitigate issues in real-time, to minimize disruptions and prevent further damage to your infrastructure.

 

Corrective 

“Corrective” measures entail all procedures related to the preparation, deployment, and upkeep of your disaster recovery strategy. Activities like ensuring all backups are in place and ensuring your team knows how to deploy and act in case of disruption are crucial parts of the corrective stage of DR strategy.  


Types of Disaster Recovery

There are multiple types of DR (disaster recovery) strategies, these include:


  1. Backups

  2. BaaS (Backups as a Service)

  3. Cold-Site Disaster Recovery

  4. Data Center Disaster Recovery

  5. DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service)

  6. Hot Site Disaster Recovery

  7. Point-in-Time Snapshots

  8. Virtual Disaster Recovery (Virtualization)

Backups

A backup is when you store your data on an off-site system on an off-site location. It’s important to note that backups do not consider IT infrastructure replacement; having backups on its own cannot be considered as an effective DR solution.


BaaS (Backups as a Service)

BaaS (Backups as a Service) is a service in which a third-party provider like BTI consistently backs up your business data for you. This approach is amazingly beneficial for organizations that are looking to reduce their costs while having a scalable and flexible backup solution.

Cold-Site Disaster Recovery

Cold-site disaster recovery is when an organization has a functional IT infrastructure in a separate location to ensure their business continues operations regardless of any disruptions.


Cold-site DR (disaster recovery) is crucial to ensure business continuity but, a cold-site on its own does not consider how to protect or recover important business data. That’s why it’s recommended to pair cold-site DR with other forms of protection.


Hot Site Disaster Recovery

Hot sites operate like cold sites but with a crucial distinction: they always maintain real-time copies of your data.


The trade-off is that hot sites are more costly to maintain compared to cold sites and other disaster recovery (DR) measures. However, having up-to-date copies of your data enables you to significantly minimize downtime.

Data Center Disaster Recovery

Data center disaster recovery involves designing data centers to swiftly resume operations within minutes during disasters or downtime.


This practice considers site planning, architectural management, and cost to strategically implement physical security tools such as fire alarms, suppression systems, and backup power sources, to effectively mitigate disasters.


It's essential to recognize that while these tools are highly effective against physical threats, they offer limited protection against cyber-attacks. Therefore, a balanced approach incorporating both physical security and cyber security measures is crucial for comprehensive data center protection.

DraaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service)

In case of a disaster, ransomware, or other types of cyberattacks, a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) provider shifts your organization's computer processing to its cloud infrastructure, allowing you to continue your operations from the vendor's location, even if your servers are offline.


Typically, DRaaS providers offer monthly payment or per-user based subscription models.

Point-in-Time Snapshots

Point-in-time copies (also known as point-in-time snapshots) create a duplicate of the entire database at a specific moment. Data can be recovered from this backup if your safe copy is stored off-site or on a virtual machine not affected by a disaster.

Virtual Disaster Recovery

Virtual data disaster recovery is like point-in-time copies; however, the key difference is that instead of duplicating a database, instant recovery captures a snapshot of an entire virtual machine.


Disaster recovery services promotional image from BTI.

6 Benefits of Implementing an Effective Disaster Recovery Strategy

Implementing a DR plan is not only necessary, but also extremely beneficial for any business regardless of size or industry. Some of the benefits of implementing a disaster recovery strategy in your business include:


  • Guaranteed Business Continuity

  • Improved Security Measures

  • Improved Regulatory Compliance

  • Reduced Recovery Costs

  • Faster Recovery from Disaster

  • High Availability


Guaranteed Business Continuity  

Disaster recovery solutions ensure that critical business operations can resume with minimal or no interruption. 


Improved Security Measures  

DR plans utilize data backup and other procedures to enhance your security stance and mitigate the impact of attacks and other security threats. 


For instance, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions come with integrated security features like advanced encryption, identity, and access management, allowing you to strengthen your existing cyber security measures.

 

Improved Regulatory Compliance  

DR planning aids in meeting compliance requirements by identifying potential risks and establishing a set of procedures and safeguards for your data and workloads in case of a disaster.  


This typically involves implementing robust data backup practices, establishing DR sites, and regularly testing your DR plan to ensure your organization is well-prepared. In addition, multiple compliance frameworks require you to have DR plans in place, so implementing your disaster recovery plan will enable you to meet the compliance requirements of multiple frameworks.  

 

Reduced Recovery Costs  

Disaster recovery helps mitigate or even prevent the costs associated with downtime. Additionally, cloud disaster recovery procedures can lower the operational expenses associated with maintaining a secondary location. 


Faster Recovery from Disaster  

According to a study conducted by Veeam, the average time-to-recovery after a ransomware attack is 3.4 weeks.  Additionally, downtime costs an average of $9,000 per minute.


Implementing disaster recovery plans will allow you to continue your operations in a disaster while optimizing your network performance and reducing costs associated with cyber-attacks.  

 

High Availability  

Many cloud-based services offer high availability (HA) features to complement your disaster recovery (DR) strategy against equipment failure and other kinds of low-scale events that may impact your operations.  


Disaster recovery services promotional image from BTI.

Key Elements of an Effective Disaster Recovery Strategy  

A robust disaster recovery (DR) strategy is a comprehensive blueprint that should encompass distinct layers of preparedness, including an immediate emergency response mechanism, systematic backups, and well-defined recovery procedures. 


Such strategies are seamlessly woven into the larger fabric of business continuity plans, ensuring that every facet of your organization has the resilience to restore normal operations quickly and efficiently after an unforeseen event. 


Decoding Key Metrics for Disaster Recovery


Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

The RTO is a critical metric that identifies the maximum acceptable period that your business's systems and applications can be non-operational. This varies depending on the service; for example, some applications can withstand an hour of downtime, while others require rapid restoration to avoid significant disruptions.


Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

Contrarily, the RPO pinpoints the maximum age of data your company can afford to lose in the event of a disaster, consequently guiding how often data backups should be executed. A shorter RPO means more frequent backups, aiming for near-real-time data availability.


Employing these key metrics is indispensable in conducting thorough risk assessments and business impact analyses (BIA) for a spectrum of potential disaster scenarios. By scrutinizing every business function and associated risks, your entity can delineate targeted DR objectives and formulate strategic action plans.

Strategizing Recovery - RTO and RPO Considerations

In shaping your recovery plans, ensure there's a consonance between the established RTO and RPO benchmarks and the instituted recovery tactics. Opting for smaller RTO and RPO intervals often translates to swifter restoration capabilities but may also come with increased financial investments.


The Cloud DR Advantage 

Transitioning to cloud-based DR solutions can dramatically reduce both RTO and RPO costs in comparison to traditional on-site DR arrangements. This is primarily because it alleviates common infrastructure hurdles related to storage capacity, security, and maintenance. 


The Secret to Make Disaster Recovery Work 

To deem an IT disaster recovery plan effective, your organization must swiftly and efficiently resume operations within minutes following a disaster. But adopting and maintaining the appropriate processes to maintain an IT disaster recovery plan is easier said than done.


BTI’s RMM as a Service is the latest revolutionary addition to BTI’s IT services portfolio. With RMM as a Service you will be able to free up your IT teams from repetitive and complex tasks like DR (disaster recovery) and network monitoring while ensuring your systems perform at their highest capacity while maintaining world-class security.   


But what does this mean for you? With RMM as a Service you will experience:


  • Reduced IT Expenses

  • Guaranteed Uptime

  • Reduced Management and Operational Costs

  • Increased Work-Life Balance for Your IT Team


If you are looking for a reliable partner that can provide the right tools, guidance, and expertise tailored to your specific business needs, BTI can help. Contact one of our sales reps today to start your journey towards safe, efficient, and cost-effective IT operations.  

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