What is a business continuity and disaster recovery plan?

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A business continuity and disaster recovery plan helps organizations and companies to prepare for potentially harmful and disruptive events. It sums the ability to continue the business operations with no disruptions and minimizes the risk of unwanted interventions caused either by human factor or natural disaster.

BCDR uses a set of processes and techniques to help organizations maintain normal business operations in case of unwanted threats or a disaster, providing safe business processes and securing the critical business functions of an organization. A business continuity and disaster recovery plan provides for the ability of every company or organization to adopt and bounce back from every disruptive event.

Despite the fact that natural disasters can't be predicted, an organization will feel the tranquility of having the best disaster preparedness, no matter what happens — business data and critical business operations will be protected. Furthermore, this will provide the opportunity of having business resilience at the highest level every day, because it is a well-known fact that a disaster strikes unexpectedly and it is totally unpredictable. But a business can remain calm and secure when data backup is used as part of its recovery process.

All these critical operations ensure business continuity. For every self-respecting organization, it is a must to have a business continuity plan and disaster recovery strategy in case something unexpected happens. Businesses all over the world are looking for the best possible way to secure their ability to back up in case of an emergency. Let's have a closer look at what BCDR is, and dive deeper into the countless benefits it provides for businesses.

What is BCDR? : Business Continuity Disaster Recovery

What does BCDR stand for?

Nowadays, there must be zero tolerance for operational downtime, human error, natural disasters or a cyberattack, because these can devastate your critical business processes, which can be catastrophic for an organization. Business continuity and disaster recovery planning are the two factors that will minimize the impact major disasters have on a business’s ability to deliver its products and services.

While both of them are very important, they have notable differences and understanding those is fundamental for the security of a business. Nowadays, business continuity and disaster recovery are the key factors for successfully dealing with variety of destructive scenarios, while disaster planning and proactive strategies are the last piece of the puzzle for having the best business continuity strategy. Proper crisis management is one of the most important objectives through disaster recovery and stable business continuity management.

Every organization, from the smallest to the largest, depends on digital technologies to generate profit. So a proper BCDR approach is a key factor leading to business success.

What is BCDR?

Generally speaking, BCDR professionals can help a business or organization to create a strategy for how to survive when hard times come. In every good and effective survival strategy, there is typically a business continuity plan, disaster recovery strategy and risk analysis. Guaranteeing the proper functioning of normal operations and developing such a strategy is a complex process that involves business impact analysis and very good risk assessments. Because of the hazardous times we live in, there must be a clear plan to action for when the disaster occurs. An effective BCDR plan does not only restore a business’s data, but also minimizes the impact of eventual disruption on business operations and gets the organization on its feet again in case of an emergency.

One of the worst things that can happen to a business is downtime, because it really hurts its reputation and workflow, and can ruin an entire organization and its organizational processes in the event of disaster or other such incidents. Risk assessment is a crucial part of a good BCDR strategy and it should be continually evaluated, because there’s always room for improvement. In this case, a professional BCDR strategy is insurance for a business’s technology infrastructure, and if an organization does not have a BCDR strategy in place, it will be impossible to recover and resume operations normally when a disaster occurs. Therefore, it’s very important for every small or large organization to have recovery procedures and good business continuity in place to prevent any data loss.

What should you include in your BCDR plan?

Organizations have to have the best possible business continuity planning, recovery processes and backup systems that assure normal business operations. One thing is for sure is that every organization creates its own structure and goals to achieve, which is why business continuity planning should be based on individual requirements and strategies. Disaster recovery planning must be managed differently in every organization, no matter how small or large, and the business continuity management process must be at its best to guarantee no data loss. Disaster recovery focuses on minimizing the risk of impact of a disruptive event, and in this way, an organization should equip itself to defend against every possible scenario it could encounter once disaster strikes.

However, there are specific areas that organizations should focus on while they implement their business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Risk assessment and business impact analysis are two of the most critical evaluations in business continuity and disaster recovery plans can include. They are at the heart of the strategies business leaders should create for their companies and once they are in place, they set the stage for rapid recovery and data protection.

Risk assessment includes four vital disaster scenarios that a business or organization can face: loss of access to promises, loss of data, loss of IT functions and loss of skills. These are the four major risks, despite the fact that there are other risks as well. So, the key role of a good business continuity plan and strategy can define processes, qualify risks and tackle them promptly. This business continuity plan should include preventing the risks with high probability and high impact; accepting the risks with low probability and low impact; containing the risks with high probability and low impact; and plan for the risks with low probability and high impact. Once these risks are defined, a business impact analysis can be properly performed. This will ensure that an organization will survive when a disaster occurs; that it will have proper data recovery, data backup and the best business continuity management process possible.

Business impact analysis determines the relationship between different risk factors. Each of these will be assessed for their impact on business operations, financial performance and workflow. This will give the organization a complete picture of potential risks, probable cost and the best recovery time objective in case of potential disaster scenarios. It will determine the areas that require higher level of protection, the tolerance level for different disruptive events and the IT service levels needed for your organization.

What is the difference between a disaster recovery plan and business continuity planning?

Even as business continuity and disaster recovery may seem to be synonymous, in reality, they are quite different. A business continuity plan focuses more on proactive actions and generally refers to the processes and procedures every business must implement to ensure that critical functions can continue during a disaster and afterward. This plan involves comprehensive preparation of organizational processes designed to address long-term challenges and preserve the organization.

On the other hand, a disaster recovery plan is more reactive and defines specific steps an organization must take to resume operation and remain operational during and after a disaster. Disaster recovery involves actions taken after the accident, where response and recovery times can range from seconds to days. In other words, business continuity focuses on the organization and disaster recovery zeroes in on the technology infrastructure. Part of continuity plans are concentrated to accessing data easily; but they also include risk management and planning for a organization to stay above water during a disaster event.

It is true that business continuity and disaster recovery have their similarities: they both consider different unplanned events like from human error, cyberattacks or a natural disasters. Their role is to guarantee the goal of keeping the business running as close to normal as possible.

What are the 5 components of a business continuity plan?

We all know how important it is for every organization to have a good business continuity and disaster recovery plan, so that it’s more likely to keep it’s critical business functions up and running in times disaster strikes or during any disruptive event. Natural disasters happen unexpectedly, and they are usually hard or nearly impossible to predict.

So businesses really need to be secured by the best business continuity management and disaster recovery plans possible. Having them in place will give you added confidence and reduce recovery time frames. In order to achieve this, every business continuity plan needs to incorporate five key elements.

  1. Risk management and potential business impact. Cyber-based impact analysis identifies potential risks and vulnerabilities within and outside the organization and enables choosing the right approach for the needed recovery strategies. These risks could be anything, from a major IT disruption to a something that’s not so damaging but still is a risk — like a failure from an important supplier.

When knowing what your organization could potentially face in near future, you can take steps to prevent and minimize the risk. Good business continuity plans also use the output of your business impact analysis to reveal the possible damages and consequences of disruption your organization may face. This will open your eyes to what could you expect and what it will cost you if this scenario occurs.

  1. Planning an effective response. Once you have awareness of the potential risks and threads your business may vulnerable to, you can begin forming your effective business continuity planning.

A comprehensive business continuity plan will take each risk identified in the business impact analysis and generate the appropriate response needed to secure the business continuity of your organization. Such detailed plans describe the actions needed to be executed and outline who needs to be involved to implement them.

  1. Roles and responsibilities. In order for a crisis or disruptive event to be faced confidently, the key people in your team must know their roles and responsibilities. A business continuity plan documents which key personnel need to be involved in the disruption response. This typically is handled by senior staff members, but it depends on the business and the type of risk being dealt with.

The resources contributed and business continuity planning already established should be clearly stated so that the team can clarify what are they facing, and what kind of crisis are they are dealing with.

  1. Communication. This is a key element in dealing with disaster events. The communication across your business can reassure team members and give them the needed confidence during the process of business continuity from an unexpected situation, and they will then be able to take effective steps to respond and recover.

To prepare for this, a business continuity plan will normally include a list of key contacts. Having this in place can help communication and make it much easier during a crisis to ensure that your staff and external contacts are kept up to speed.

  1. Testing and training. These are key factors in ensuring the best business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Business continuity plans are not just theoretical; those implementing them need to be trained enough to put them into action so your organization can continue its normal operations. In order to accomplish this, testing and training is critical. Realistic scenarios can be simulated by recovery personnel and recovery teams to test the plan in emergency situations and how the team responds. By doing this, businesses can identify where is room for improvement and take the necessary corrective actions before a disruption occurs. You can readily achieve this by creating an effective business continuity management system.

Many companies run regular awareness training sessions about business continuity and disaster crises, and maintain them as a key component for dealing with them, because it’s been proven that training and simulating these events improve the overall resilience of the company.

What are the 4 pillars of business continuity?

Your business runs on data. If you are unlucky enough to lose access and you have no disaster recovery plan, you immediately incur costs, productivity and customer dissatisfaction.

On the other hand, if you have already prepared business continuity and disaster recovery plans, then you feel confident about your organization recover and normal operation function. You need to provide these four key pillars of business continuity.

  1. You have to protect your data at every level. Enterprise applications like MySQL, Exchange server and Hyper V come with their own user roles, access policies and security features. All their data should be included in your backup plan. Complete data protection must cover file data, configuration data, application data and more.
  1. Backup your backups. Most IT professionals are aware of the importance of this. A good rule to follow to protect your backed-up data is the 3-2-1 backup rule: keep 3 copies of any important data that you can't afford to lose; utilize two types of storage — for example, hard drive and USB drive; and lastly, store one copy of your data off-site.
  1. Store backups in multiple locations. As was discussed previously, it is very important to keep backups in different places. One copy of the data should be stored on a local NAS appliance, another at a remote backup site and third in the cloud, so that an organization can be assured its data is always available and there won't be any glitch in its disaster recovery plan.
  1. Set logical recovery goals. When disasters happen, businesses need to rebound from them as soon as possible. To that end, they can help themselves with good disaster recovery planning and mapping out the road to recovery by setting specific goals. Recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) are fundamental to business continuity planning. Despite their names suggesting they have similar meanings, there are major differences between them that play equally important roles in accomplishing the best disaster recovery plan.

Recovery point objective refers to the maximum period of time in which data is not lost during a disruption. This parameter is vital in determining how often an organization needs to back up data. If the RPO is set at eight hours to meet that objective, a data backup must be performed at least once every eight hours to fulfill the disaster recovery plan.

Recovery time objective refers to the target time designated to recover from an accident and maintain a business continuity plan. In other words, this means how long an organization can afford to be inoperable before it is negatively affected.

For example, if a recovery point objective is set at five hours, that means five hours will be needed to get servers and telecommunication or network services running. Used correctly, RPO and RTO both can provide a much better degree of measured guidance when responding to a disaster event.

How do you write a business continuity and disaster recovery plan?

Business continuity planning goes beyond the technology component. It combines and involves many short-term and long-term processes such as the response, resumption, recovery and the maintenance of the entire organization. There are eight major steps involved in creating a business continuity plan.

  1. Identifying the scope of the plan.
  2. Identifying key business areas.
  3. Identifying key critical functions.
  4. Identifying dependencies between a variety of business areas and functions.
  5. Determining acceptable downtime for each critical function.
  6. Testing the business continuity plan.
  7. Creating a plan to maintain operations.
  8. Reviewing and improving the business continuity plan.

Creating a disaster recovery plan, which includes detailed instructions on how to respond to unexpected incidents and it is more thorough than a business continuity plan.

Here we have seven key steps in creating a disaster recovery plan.

  1. Creating a disaster recovery response team.
  2. Identifying critical operations and setting goals.
  3. Evaluating potential disaster scenarios.
  4. Having a communication plan.
  5. Establishing roles and different responsibilities.
  6. Developing a data backup and disaster recovery plan.
  7. Testing, reviewing and updating the plan.

What are the 4 phases of business continuity?

Business continuity planning is a crucial part of cybersecurity, but do organizations have a system that accounts for its four phases? The threat of data breaches looms over all organizations and a significant cyberattack or natural disaster can cause irreparable damage. This is exactly why every organization or business needs a business continuity plan. It contains a set of processes that helps organizations respond to destructive incidents, such as cyberattacks or natural disasters.

When creating your business continuity strategy, you should consider its four phases:

  1. Initial response

The first thing you have to do when discovering a disruption is determine the seriousness of the damage that’s been committed. What systems and locations are inaccessible? Is there any important information that has been compromised? As a proper response, the business continuity plan should include specific actions that will have to be taken in different scenarios, so you need to align the damage with the appropriate approach and response.

  1. Relocation

The next step is to move the affected files and areas out of harm's way. As with the initial response, a business continuity plan should include specific details and actions based on each scenario.

  1. Recovery

When the affected area has been located and isolated, it is time to fix the problem. You can likely deal with some disruptions by yourself, but in most cases, expert help is needed to overcome the problem and prevent any data loss.

  1. Restoration

Once the process of recovery has been completed, the organization can return to business as usual. But first, checking and confirming that the recovery was successful needs to be tested. If everything is fine after the test, everything[CH1]  can be moved back to its proper place.

What is the average cost of downtime on business operations?

It is no exaggeration that downtime costs a lot of money for every organization when something unexpected happens, and businesses cannot operate properly. The cost is variable for every organization, depending on the size and nature of the business as well the duration of downtime. As per the latest surveys[CH2] , which included respondents all across the globe, 30% reported that the average hourly downtime of their servers cost between $310,000 and $400,000. You can now imagine how devastating the duration of downtime can be for these respondents.

And another survey [CH3] revealed that the average cost of an infrastructure failure is $110,000 per hour. Furthermore, the average cost of unplanned application and server downtime per year ranges from $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion.[CH4] 

For smaller companies, the reported cost for downtime per hour was between $35,000 and $50,000. The only way to minimize the risks and the cost for a business is to have the best possible business continuity and disaster recovery plan established — and, it’s the only way to get a business through a catastrophic event, where backup is a lifesaver.

How are business continuity and disaster recovery connected?

As we discussed above, a disaster recovery plan acts as a safeguard and protects businesses from unpredictable circumstances. On the other hand, business continuity plans aim at streamlining processes after damage or disaster. It facilitates the implementation of a strategy that doesn't adversely affect business activities and operations and ensures smooth functions within an organization. The bond between the business continuity and disaster recovery is connected and one without the other would make the recovery of a business in the case of unwanted and unexpected threats impossible.

 [CH1]What is “everything”? Data?



 [CH4]Source? Or is this from the same survey as above?

About Acronis

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.