Make A Plan!

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A disaster recovery plan is a documented procedure to recover and protect a company IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster. Basically, it offers a clear idea on various actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster.

Disasters are natural or man-made. Examples include industrial accidents, oil spills, stampedes, fires, nuclear explosions/nuclear radiation and acts of war etc..

Disaster can’t be removed, but proactive preparation can mitigate data loss and disruption to operations. Organizations need a disaster recovery plan which includes formal Plan to think about the consequences of disruptions to all crucial businesses processes and their dependencies. Phase wise plan consists of the precautions to lessen the effects of a disaster so the organization can continue to operate or quickly resume mission-critical functions.

The Disaster Recovery Plan is to be ready by the Disaster Recovery Committee, which includes representatives from all critical departments or regions of the department’s purposes. The committee’s responsibility is to prepare a timeline to set a reasonable deadline for completing the written plan. The also responsible to identify critical and noncritical departments. A procedure used to determine the critical needs of a department is to record all of the functions performed by each department. Once the principal functions are recognized, the operations and processes are then ranked in order of priority: essential, important and non-essential.

Typically, disaster recovery planning involves an analysis of business processes and continuity needs. Before generating a comprehensive plan, an organization frequently performs a business impact analysis (BIA) and hazard analysis (RA), and it establishes the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). The RTO describes the goal amount of time a business application can be down, typically measured in hours, minutes or seconds. The RPO describes the prior point in time when an application has to be recovered.

The plan should define the roles and responsibilities of disaster recovery team members and outline the criteria to establish the strategy into action, however, there is no one right type of disaster recovery program, nor is there a one-size-fits-all disaster recovery program. Essentially, there are three basic strategies that feature in most disaster recovery plans: (a) preventive measures, (b) detective measures, and (c) corrective measures.

(a) Preventive steps: will try to stop a disaster from occurring. These measures attempt to identify and reduce risks. They are designed to mitigate or prevent an event from occurring. These measures may include keeping information backed up and off-site, using surge protectors, installing generators and conducting regular inspections.

(b) Detective measures: These measures include installing fire alarms, using up-to-date antivirus software, holding employee training sessions, and installing server and network monitoring program.

(c) Corrective measures: These measures focus on fixing or restoring the systems after a disaster. Corrective measures may include keeping crucial files in the Disaster Recovery Plan.

The Plan should include a list of first-level contacts and persons/departments inside the business, who can declare a disaster and trigger DR operations. It should also include an outline and content saying the exact procedures to be followed by a disaster. At least 2-4 possible DR sites with hardware/software that meets or exceeds the current manufacturing environment should be made available. DR best practices suggest that DR sites should be at least 50 miles away from the Present production site so the Recovery Point Objective (RPO)/Restoration Time Objective (RTO) requirements are satisfied

The restoration plan must provide for initial and ongoing employee training. Skills are needed in the reconstruction and salvage phases of the recovery process. Your initial training can be achieved through professional seminars, special in-house educational programs, the wise use of consultants and vendors, and individual study tailored to the needs of your department. A minimum amount of training is necessary to assist professional restorers/recovery contractors and others having little knowledge of your information, level of importance, or general operations

An entire documented plan has to be analyzed entirely and all testing report should be logged for future prospect. After testing procedures have been completed, an initial”dry run” of the plan is performed by conducting a structured walk-through test. The test provides additional information regarding any further steps that may need to be included, changes in procedures that are not effective, and other appropriate adjustments. These may not become evident unless an authentic dry-run test is performed. The plan is then updated to fix any problems identified during the test. Initially, testing of this plan is done in sections and after normal business hours to minimize disruptions to the general operations of their organization. As the program is further polished, future evaluations occur during regular business hours.

Once the disaster recovery plan was written and tested, the program is then submitted to management for approval. It is top management’s ultimate responsibility that the organization has a documented and tested plan.

Another important factor that is often overlooked involves the frequency with which DR Plans are upgraded. Yearly updates are recommended but a few businesses or organizations need more frequent updates because business processes evolve or due to faster data growth. To remain relevant, disaster recovery plans should be an essential part of all business analysis procedures and must be revisited at every major corporate acquisition, at every new product launch, and at every new system development milestone.

Your business doesn’t stay the same; companies grow, change and realign. An effective disaster recovery plan must be regularly reviewed and updated to make sure it reflects the current state of the business and meets the goals of the business. Not only should it be reviewed, but it has to be analyzed to ensure it would be a success if implemented.

When things go awry, it’s important to have a strong, concentrated, and well-tested disaster recovery plan.

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