disaster recovery and business continuity

This season's Hurricane Irma and Harvey have shown how major disasters can incapacitate an entire city, region or country. When disaster strikes, you'll want to ensure your data, organisation, and team are protected and prepared. It is critical to prepare for a potential disaster by having a thorough disaster recovery plan (DRP) and business continuity plan (BCP) in place. Many mistakenly confuse business continuity and disaster recovery for one and the same. To ensure proper planning, it is important to understand that although these terms are complementary to one another, they are in fact two separate concepts.


Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: What is the Difference?

A business continuity plan considers various unpredictable events, such as natural disasters, fires, cyberattacks and other external threats that could threaten the entire organisation. More specifically, a BCP details the necessary steps the organisation needs to take in order to remain operable during and after an unpredictable event. It also takes into account what is the best way  to prevent or minimize the negative consequences of a disaster from occurring at all

On the other hand, a disaster recovery plan outlines the processes and procedures an organisation needs to follow in order to recover their critical applications, data, and systems after a disaster occurs. 

Disaster recovery and business continuity are complementary in nature. A thorough DR plan ensures an organisation can maintain their business continuity after a disaster or unpredictable event, and is included in their overall BCP. 

How do the Two Fit Together?

Disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity, and is necessary to ensure systems and data are continuously recoverable. BCP is larger in scope and incorporates the entire organisation and all aspects a disaster may impact, such as a secondary site for staff in case of a primary site disaster, emergency staff scheduling, customer communications, alternate vendors, and more. 

To effectively establish a DR plan, an organisation must know their Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). An RPO dictates the amount of data the organisation can afford to lose. On the other hand, RTO measures how long your organisation can operate without a specific application. These two parameters will determine the type of technologies an organisation must incorporate into their DR plan, as well as the procedures and strategies they must consider. Some may choose to hire a managed service provider to handle their DR, whereas others may choose to manage their own. DR planning and replication is all just a small part of Business Continuity Planning, and influences an organisation’s ability to retain business continuity in case of a disaster situation. 

Successful disaster recovery and business continuity planning are essential for any type of organisation. When disaster strikes, organisations need to be prepared and able to recover data and operations in a timely and efficient manner. With an established strategy and plan in place, organisations can maintain operations and continue business as usual with little to zero impact. However, it is also important to understand the difference between the two concepts, and establish a plan that incorporates both to ensure your organisation can confidently recover.