Backups and Disaster Recovery planning is an integral part of any business’s IT strategy, and is becoming more prevalent as security breaches and network outages have become common threats.
During the initial stages of disaster recovery planning, decision-makers often misunderstand the components of a disaster recovery plan. Many times, they erroneously believe that data backup alone is sufficient as a precaution in the event of a disaster.
“Customers often come to us seeking disaster recovery services without realizing that simply backing up their data is not enough,” says Joe Palian, Solutions Architect at Expedient. While having a backup strategy is important, it is not the same as a disaster recovery strategy; rather, the beginning stages of establishing a proper DR plan. A backup is a copy of your data; a disaster recovery plan is insurance that guarantees its recovery.
1.) Data retention requirements
Companies typically perform daily backups to retain necessary data at a single location for the purpose of copying the data. However, disaster recovery goes beyond backups. It involves determining the recovery time objective (RTO) to establish the maximum acceptable downtime for IT systems post-disaster. Meeting the RTO often requires duplicating the IT infrastructure in a secondary location for replication between the production and disaster recovery sites.
2.) Recovery ability
Disaster recovery is the process of failing over your primary environment to an alternate environment that is capable of sustaining your business continuity. Backups are useful for immediate access in the event of the need to restore a document, but does not facilitate the failover of your total environment should your infrastructure become compromised. They also do not include the physical resources required to bring them online.
3.) Additional resource needs
A backup simply involves making a copy of data with the intention of restoring it to the original source. However, disaster recovery (DR) requires a separate production environment where the data can reside. It is essential to consider all aspects of the current environment, including physical resources, software, connectivity, and security.
4.) Planning process
Planning a backup routine is relatively simple, since typically the only goals are to meet the RPO (recovery point objective) and data retention requirements.
To develop a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy, additional planning is necessary. This includes determining which systems are considered mission-critical, creating a recovery order and communication process, and, most importantly, establishing a way to perform a valid test.
The overall benefits and importance of a DR plan are to mitigate risk and downtime, maintain compliance and avoid outages. Backups serve a simpler purpose. Make sure you know which solution makes sense for your business needs. “It’s great to have a backup. But it’s not okay to take a month to get the backups up and running.” -Matthew Curtin, Interhack