Disaster recovery scenario planning begins with identifying potential business interruption events. If you understand what the risks are, you can formulate a strategy of how to deal with them and mitigate – or at least limit – business impact.
Once the disaster recovery scenarios are identified, the planning phase commences. This involves determining the probability of each scenario occurring and documenting the recovery operations.
Here are five questions to ask yourself when planning a disaster recovery scenario.
A Recovery Time Objective (RTO) determines how much time the business deems acceptable to wait for the recovery process to complete. In other words, “how long can we wait to be back online before this starts to severely impact our business operations?”
Determining the RTO will help drive the type of backup you put in place and ensure your overall backup strategy caters for the given scenario.
Note: This is where cloud backup solutions may help. For many scenarios cloud backup solutions offer increased uptime and faster overall recovery time.
Assessing the risk that the scenario brings and the probability of it happening will help you to prioritize it amongst others in the list. To visualize things, you could create a risk matrix.
Together with assessing the likeliness of the disaster scenario occurring, it is important to understand what effect it will have on the business. Will certain operations be affected? Will the business as a whole cease to operate? What data could we lose?
You may want to think about the business activity that will be impacted, the potential operational loss, potential financial loss, and the estimated time needed to recover operations. For example:
|Scenario||Business operations impacted||Potential operational loss||Potential financial loss||Estimated time to recover|
|Failed disk on file server||Staff productivity||Reduced ability to function normally||£1000 in staff wages per day||1 hour|
|Hurricane||All||Inability to function normally||£5000 in lost revenue per hour||4 hours|
Your main disaster recovery plan should include a global list of disaster recovery contacts and their roles and responsibilities. However, if there are any specific people who need to be involved in this scenario, they should also be documented.
For example, failover and relocation to a disaster recover site in the event of an earthquake will require certain people or external parties to be involved, but a local database corruption scenario may not.
To plan for disaster recovery scenarios effectively, you need to have an intricate understanding of how your organization works and the impact each scenario could have on different parts of the business.
To this end, the information gathering stage should include talking to business owners and users. Carrying out this exercise will highlight if you are missing a particular data set that is important to one aspect of the business. It will also help dictate the priority that the data should be brought back if this scenario were to happen.
Once you’ve planned and documented a scenario, you need to assess how well the plan works by testing it out. You also need to train all those involved in the disaster recovery scenario to ensure everyone understands what their roles and responsibilities are. Following this, it is always a good idea to conduct a lessons learned exercise.