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A disaster recovery plan must be in place for cities to save lives during an unexpected disaster. Learn how to develop disaster recovery strategies as well as how to write a disaster recovery plan with these step-by-step instructions.
Formulating a detailed recovery plan is the main aim of the entire IT disaster recovery planning project.
Once this work is out of the way, youa€™re ready to move on to developing disaster recovery strategies, followed by the actual plans. Once you have identified your critical systems, RTOs, RPOs, etc, create a table, as shown below, to help you formulate the disaster recovery strategies you will use to protect them.
Youa€™ll want to consider issues such as budgets, managementa€™s position with regard to risks, the availability of resources, costs versus benefits, human constraints, technological constraints and regulatory obligations. Once your disaster recovery strategies have been developed, youa€™re ready to translate them into disaster recovery plans. From Table 2 you can expand the high-level steps into more detailed step-by-step procedures, as you deem necessary.
In addition to using the strategies previously developed, IT disaster recovery plans should form part of an incident response process that addresses the initial stages of the incident and the steps to be taken. Note: We have included emergency management in Figure 2, as it represents activities that may be needed to address situations where humans are injured or situations such as fires that must be addressed by local fire brigades and other first responders. The following section details the elements in a DR plan in the sequence defined by ISO 27031 and ISO 24762. Important: Best-in-class DR plans should begin with a few pages that summarise key action steps (such as where to assemble employees if forced to evacuate the building) and lists of key contacts and their contact information for ease of authorising and launching the plan.
In parallel to these activities are three additional ones: creating employee awareness, training and records management. This paper discusses an approach for creating a good disaster recovery plan for a business enterprise.
The process of preparing a disaster recovery plan begins by identifying these causes and effects, analyzing their likelihood and severity, and ranking them in terms of their business priority.
When a disaster strikes, the normal operations of the enterprise are suspended and replaced with operations spelled out in the disaster recovery plan. The disaster recovery plan does not stop at defining the resources or processes that need to be in place to recover from a disaster. The second section of this paper explains the methods and procedures involved in the disaster recovery planning process. The first step in planning recovery from unexpected disasters is to identify the threats or risks that can bring about disasters by doing risk analysis covering threats to business continuity. These essential functions should be prioritized based on their relative importance to business operations. While evaluating the risks, it is also useful to consider the attributes of a risk (Figure 2). The scope of a risk is determined by the possible damage, in terms of downtime or cost of lost opportunities. The magnitude of a risk may be different considering the affected component, its location, and the time of occurrence. When evaluating risks, it is recommended to categorize them into different classes to accurately prioritize them. Human caused: These disasters include acts of terrorism, sabotage, virus attacks, operations mistakes, crimes, and so on.
Supplier: These risks are tied to the capacity of suppliers to maintain their level of services in a disaster.
Electricity: To analyze the power outage risk, it is important to study the frequency of power outage and the duration of each outage.
Water: There are certain disaster scenarios where water outages must be considered very seriously, for instance the impact of a water cutoff on computer cooling systems. Climate Control: Losing the air conditioning or heating system may produce different risks that change with the seasons.
Fire: Many factors affect the risk of fire, for instance the facility's location, its materials, neighboring businesses and structures, and its distance from fire stations. Structural: Structural risks may be related to design flaws, defective material, or poor-quality construction or repairs.
Physical Security: Security risks have gained attention in recent years, and nowadays security is a mandatory 24-hour measure to protect each and every asset of the company from both outsiders and employees.
Data systems risks are those related to the use of shared infrastructure, such as networks, file servers, and software applications that could impact multiple departments. An effective departmental risk assessment needs to consider all the critical functions within that department, key operating equipment, and vital records whose absence or loss will compromise operations. Desk-level risks are all the risks that can happen that would limit or stop the day-to-day personal work of an individual employee. Once the evaluation of the major risk categories is completed, it is time to score and sort all of them, category by category, in terms of their likelihood and impact. Looking at the above example, multiplying the likelihood time, impact time, and restoration time yields a rough risk analysis score.
Once the disaster risks have been assessed and the decision has been made to cover the most critical risks, the next step is to determine and list the likely effects of each of the disasters. Simple "one cause multiple effects" diagrams (Figure 3) can be used as tools for specifying the effects of each of the disasters. Note that multiple causes can produce the same effects, and in some cases the effects themselves may be the causes of some other effects. The intention of this exercise is to produce a list of entities affected by failure due to disasters, which need to be addressed by the disaster recovery plan.
It may be noticed that two or more disasters may affect the same entities, and it can be determined which entities are affected most often. Once the list of entities that possibly fail due to various types of disasters is prepared, the next step is to determine what is the downtime tolerance limit for each of the entities. The cost of downtime is the main key to calculate the investment needed in a disaster recovery plan. Tangible costs are those costs that are a consequence of a business interruption, generating loss of revenue and productivity.
Intangible costs include lost opportunities when customers would approach competitors, loss of reputation, and similar factors. How the disaster affected entities depend upon each other is crucial information for preparing the recovery sequence in the disaster recovery plan. Once the list of affected entities is prepared and each entity's business criticality and failure tendency is assessed, it is time to analyze various recovery methods available for each entity and determine the best suitable recovery method for each. In the case of data systems, for example, the recovery mechanism usually involves having the critical data systems replicated somewhere else in the network and putting them online with the latest backed up data available. In the case of power, options such as multiple power suppliers or having alternate sources of power such as diesel generators may be suitable.
Considering multiple options and variations of disaster recovery mechanisms available, it is necessary to carefully evaluate the best suitable recovery mechanism for an affected entity in a particular organization. The roles, responsibilities, and reporting hierarchy of different committee members should be clearly defined both during normal operations and in the case of a disaster emergency. Note that not all the members of the Disaster Recovery Committee may actively participate in the actual disaster recovery. Quick and precise detection of a disaster event and having an appropriate communication plan are the key for reducing the effects of the incoming emergency; in some cases it may give enough time to allow system personnel to implement actions gracefully, thus reducing the impact of the disaster. The notification procedure defines the primary measures taken as soon as a disruption or emergency has been detected or definitely predicted. At the core of disaster recovery is the fact that a copy of the mission critical data owned by the enterprise is kept at a different location.
A data center failure can lead to not only financial loss; it can also lead to the loss of reputation, which may result in an irreversible damage to the future prospects of the business. In an increasingly interconnected world that thrives by crunching massive amounts of data, it is obvious that the demand for disaster recovery solutions will have no limits.
The data center, converged infrastructure and storage segments are all set to grow at a healthy pace in the current year, and this will naturally lead to growth in the demand for disaster recovery solutions.
D’Souza is of the view that the enterprises are highly dependent on IT for delivering their products and services to their consumers, and for conducting interactions within the organisational ecosystem. As the dependence on the IT systems has continues to rise, it also leads to greater demand for DR solutions.
While there is no dearth of awareness about the necessity of having DR solutions, the actual implementation of such systems is often inadequate, primarily due to the paucity of funds.
To address the challenge of affordable pricing, SMBs are banking on cloud service for disaster recovery.


Prashant Gupta is also of the view that for IT BPO sector, it is a good opportunity to leverage the cloud based DR servers rather than invest in a DR infrastructure.
Recovery as Service (RaaS) is the newest offering that managed service providers and cloud service providers are offering, as an alternative to the expensive on-premise DR solutions. The global RaaS report by Markets and Markets predicts that RaaS will be a $5.8 billion market by the year 2018, growing at a CAGR of 54 percent.
The cost of implementation is usually low since the investment in hardware is small or non-existent. Pulamarasetti also points out that the enterprises are deploying mixture of standard and customer solutions, whereas in RaaS, there is a push to standardise and keep the DR solution simple.
Disaster recovery solution market in India has been maturing with the advent of cloud services. AboutExpress Computer is one of India's most respected IT media brands and has been in publication for 24 years running.
There are eleven disaster recovery teams in the Louisiana area, and it took nearly a week to begin the recovery (FEMA).
It is in these plans that you will set out the detailed steps needed to recover your IT systems to a state in which they can support the business after a disaster.
Then, youa€™ll need to establish recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs).
Here wea€™ll explain how to write a disaster recovery plan as well as how to develop disaster recovery strategies.
Areas to look at are availability of alternate work areas within the same site, at a different company location, at a third-party-provided location, at employeesa€™ homes or at a transportable work facility.
Youa€™ll need to identify and contract with primary and alternate suppliers for all critical systems and processes, and even the sourcing of people. Be prepared to demonstrate that your strategies align with the organisationa€™s business goals and business continuity strategies. Procedures should ensure an easy-to-use and repeatable process for recovering damaged IT assets and returning them to normal operation as quickly as possible.
This process can be seen as a timeline, such as in Figure 2, in which incident response actions precede disaster recovery actions. The next section should define roles and responsibilities of DR recovery team members, their contact details, spending limits (for example, if equipment has to be purchased) and the limits of their authority in a disaster situation. During the incident response process, we typically become aware of an out-of-normal situation (such as being alerted by various system-level alarms), quickly assess the situation (and any damage) to make an early determination of its severity, attempt to contain the incident and bring it under control, and notify management and other key stakeholders. Based on the findings from incident response activities, the next step is to determine if disaster recovery plans should be launched, and which ones in particular should be invoked. A section on plan document dates and revisions is essential, and should include dates of revisions, what was revised and who approved the revisions. Once the plan has been launched, DR teams take the materials assigned to them and proceed with response and recovery activities as specified in the plans. Located at the end of the plan, these can include systems inventories, application inventories, network asset inventories, contracts and service-level agreements, supplier contact data, and any additional documentation that will facilitate recovery. These are essential in that they ensure employees are fully aware of DR plans and their responsibilities in a disaster, and DR team members have been trained in their roles and responsibilities as defined in the plans. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. The best strategy is to have some kind of disaster recovery plan in place, to return to normal after the disaster has struck.
The guidelines are generic in nature, hence they can be applied to any business subsystem within the enterprise. Though both concepts are related to business continuity, high availability is about providing undisrupted continuity of operations whereas disaster recovery involves some amount of downtime, typically measured in days.
The causes can be natural or human or mechanical in origin, ranging from events such as a tiny hardware or software component's malfunctioning to universally recognized events such as earthquakes, fire, and flood. The ultimate results are a formal assessment of risk, a disaster recovery plan that includes all available recovery mechanisms, and a formalized Disaster Recovery Committee that has responsibility for rehearsing, carrying out, and improving the disaster recovery plan. Figure 1 depicts the cycle of stages that lead through a disaster back to a state of normalcy.
Only when these are assessed and the affected systems are identified can a recovery process begin.
The plan should also define how to restore operations to a normal state once the disaster's effects are mitigated. An effective disaster recovery plan plays its role in all stages of the operations as depicted above, and it is continuously improved by disaster recovery mock drills and feedback capture processes. Risk analysis (sometimes called business impact analysis) involves evaluating existing physical and environmental security and control systems, and assessing their adequacy with respect to the potential threats.
In evaluating a risk, it is essential to keep in mind the options around that risk, such as time of the day or day of the week, that can affect its scope. The effects of a disaster that strikes the entire enterprise are different from the effects of a disaster affecting a specific area, office, or utility within the company. They are very significant in that they are not directly under the control of the organization that faces the damages. Typical civil risks include labor disputes ending in strikes, communal riots, local political instability, and so on. While evaluating these risks, the following essential utilities and commodities need to be considered. It is also useful to determine how many powers feeds operate within the facility and if necessary make the power system redundant.
A key factor in evaluating risks associated with telephone systems is to study the telephone architecture and determine if any additional infrastructure is required to mitigate the risk of losing the entire telecommunication service during a disaster. Different secure access and authorization procedures, manual as well as automated ones, are enforced in enterprises. A key objective in analyzing these risks is to identify all single points of failure within the data systems architecture.
Operations that have run for a long period of time on obsolete hardware or software are a major risk given the lack of spares or support. These would be events such as a fire within an area where flammable liquids are stored, or a missing door key preventing a specific operation. The likelihood that something happens should be considered in a long plan period, such as 5 years. A higher value would mean longer restoration time hence the priority of having a Disaster Recovery mechanism for this risk is higher. In Figure 3, the entities that fail due to the earthquake disaster are office facility, power system, operations staff, data systems, and telephone system. The entities with the most appearances in the table have a greater tendency of failure occurrence. This information becomes crucial for preparing the recovery sequence in the disaster recovery plan. For example, having the data systems restored has a dependency on the restoration of power.
For less critical data systems, there may be an option to have spare server hardware, and if required these servers could be configured with the required application.
This committee should have representation from all the different company agencies with a role in the disaster recovery process, typically management, finance, IT (multiple technology leads), electrical department, security department, human resources, vendor management, and so on.
During a disaster, this committee ensures that there is proper coordination between different agencies and that the recovery processes are executed successfully and in proper sequence. But several key members of the committee, such as the operations manager, operations coordinator, and the respective operations team leads, will always actively participate. Execution Phase: In this phase, the actual procedures to recover each of the disaster affected entities are executed.
Reconstitution Phase: In this phase the original system is restored and execution phase procedures are stopped. A hurricane affecting a specific geographic area, or a virus spread expected on a certain date are examples of disasters with advance notice.
It should be well informed about the geographical, political, social, and environmental events that may pose threats to the company's business operations. At the end of this phase, recovery staff will be ready to execute contingency actions to restore system functions on a temporary basis. A notification policy must describe procedures to be followed when specific personnel cannot be contacted. The call tree should document primary and alternate contact methods and should include procedures to be followed if an individual cannot be contacted. There can be any number of negative events that can lead to disruption in the services that are being provided by any data center.


Hence disaster recovery (DR) technologies, which help enterprises in dealing with a broad range of disruption scenarios such as cyber attacks, fire, power-cut, riots, terrorist attack, cyclone, earthquake, etc., are of critical importance. Industries such as banking, insurance, retail, telecom, eGovernance, and manufacturing are highly dependent on DR technologies.
According to Gartner, disaster recovery solutions are typically 4% of the data center budget and this share can go as high as 6-8% in a country like India where large numbers of disaster recovery projects are occurring.
Santhosh D’Souza, Director – Systems Engineering, NetApp India, is of the view that DR solutions have become a standard practice across most industry verticals.
Especially the small medium businesses (SMBs) face such financial issues and they fail to have an effective DR, leading to a situation where their business faces the constant thread of outage.
He points out that more businesses are examining cloud-based disaster recovery solutions as technology service providers are developing new offerings designed to fit the specifications and budgets of nearly any customer. Chandra Sekhar Pulamarasetti points out that we are seeing initial trends in India too in this direction where several customers are evaluating and adopting RaaS solutions in the recent 6-9 months. Also, the ability to increase and decrease the computational and storage related resources allows the business to effectively scale-up as needed. This will enable Service Providers to easily deliver across hundreds of customers in a short span of time. Now we are seeing a stronger movement towards disaster recovery as a service into cloud (DRaaS). We cover enterprise technology in all its flavours, including processors, storage, networking, wireless, business applications, cloud computing, analytics, green initiatives and anything that can help companies make the most of their ICT investments. Likewise, a contingency plan must be designed, tested, implemented, and maintained in order to sustain companies during an unexpected disaster. The system was restored after four days because we were unable to locate a hard disk of that size.  As you can see, all companies must be prepared for all types of disasters. Then consider site security, staff access procedures, ID badges and the location of the alternate space relative to the primary site. Key areas where alternate suppliers will be important include hardware (such as servers, racks, etc), power (such as batteries, universal power supplies, power protection, etc), networks (voice and data network services), repair and replacement of components, and multiple delivery firms (FedEx, UPS, etc).
Then define step-by-step procedures to, for example, initiate data backup to secure alternate locations, relocate operations to an alternate space, recover systems and data at the alternate sites, and resume operations at either the original site or at a new location.
Here we can see the critical system and associated threat, the response strategy and (new) response action steps, as well as the recovery strategy and (new) recovery action steps. If staff relocation to a third-party hot site or other alternate space is necessary, procedures must be developed for those activities. This section should specify who has approved the plan, who is authorised to activate it and a list of linkages to other relevant plans and documents. If DR plans are to be invoked, incident response activities can be scaled back or terminated, depending on the incident, allowing for launch of the DR plans. The more detailed the plan is, the more likely the affected IT asset will be recovered and returned to normal operation. And since DR planning generates a significant amount of documentation, records management (and change management) activities should also be initiated.
For an enterprise, a disaster means abrupt disruption of all or part of its business operations, which may directly result in revenue loss. Effects of disasters range from small interruptions to total business shutdown for days or months, even fatal damage to the business. The disaster recovery system cannot replace the normal working system forever, but only supports it for a short period of time.
Finally, ongoing procedures for testing and improving the effectiveness of the disaster recovery system are part of a good disaster recovery plan. And the fourth section explains what information the disaster recovery plan should contain and how to maintain the disaster recovery plan. Essential functions are those whose interruption would considerably disrupt the operations of the business and may result in financial loss. For example, spilling several gallons of toxic liquid across an assembly line area during working hours is a different situation than the same spill at night or during the weekend. To mitigate the risk of disruption of business operations, a recovery solution should involve disaster recovery facilities in a location away from the affected area. Factors such as workplace violence, bomb threats, trespassing, sabotage, and intellectual property loss are also considered during the security risk analysis. Recovery from this type of failure may be lengthy and expensive due to the need to replace or update software and equipment and retrain personnel. Every process and tool that makes up the personal job must be examined carefully and accounted as essential. Sorting the table in descending order will put the biggest risks to the top, and these are the risks that deserve more attention.
The entities with less downtime tolerance limit should be assigned higher priorities for recovery. Depending on the data system, there may be options of autorecovery or manual recovery, and the cost and recovery time factors of each mechanism vary. It should have trusted information sources in the different agencies to forestall false alarms or overreactions to hoaxes. Procedures should contain the process to alert recovery personnel during business and nonbusiness hours.
Hence, the DR solutions market size in India is expected to be on the high side for the year 2015 at 6-8% of the data center spend, totalling $125-$160 Million. We also see a significant rise in the demand for DR in case of eGovernance projects,” says Chandra Sekhar Pulamarasetti, Co-Founder & CEO, Sanovi Technologies. He also says that with government giving impetus to Digital India and Smart Cities initiatives, the need for DR solution will increase further in coming years. A DRaaS offering provides an architect to implement the solution, monitors and manages the data, and connects customers to the necessary resources in emergency situations. Several SMB customers are now deploying cloud based DR solutions for their critical systems,” says Chandra Sekhar Pulamarasetti of Sanovi Technologies. For private clouds being deployed by enterprises, there is again a need for standardised low-touch deployment based solutions for rapid self-provisioning.
In fact, this is the global trend—DR for enterprise systems are increasingly being put in the public cloud, which is managed by Amazon or the local Cloud Provider.
This section defines the criteria for launching the plan, what data is needed and who makes the determination. Technology DR plans can be enhanced with relevant recovery information and procedures obtained from system vendors. If your organisation already has records management and change management programmes, use them in your DR planning.
To minimize disaster losses, it is very important to have a good disaster recovery plan for every business subsystem and operation within an enterprise. At the earliest possible time, the disaster recovery process must be decommissioned and the business should return to normalcy.
While the time taken and cost to clean up the area are the same in both cases, the first case may require shutting down the assembly line area, which adds downtime cost to this event.
Nowadays most of the meteorological threats can be forecasted, hence the chances to mitigate effects of some natural disasters are considerable. After the disaster detection, a notification should be sent to the damage assessment team, so that they can assess the real damage occurred and implement subsequent actions. Day or night, their data center has to keep working with the same seamless efficiency,” adds D’Souza. This could be a great benefit for many enterprises that don’t have the experience or the capital to invest in the talent, which is necessary for developing a comprehensive in-house plan for DR.
Above all, businesses can completely eliminate the cost of leasing, owning, and maintaining real estate to house the data at an additional location with a cloud-based DR solution.
Included within this part of the plan should be assembly areas for staff (primary and alternates), procedures for notifying and activating DR team members, and procedures for standing down the plan if management determines the DR plan response is not needed. Check with your vendors while developing your DR plans to see what they have in terms of emergency recovery documentation.
Nevertheless is important to consider documenting the scope of these natural risks in as much detail as possible.
In the eventuality where there is a data center failure, the customers would expect the disaster recovery experts are available round the clock to get the systems running smoothly in quick time. This is generally not possible with traditional solutions that are storage or host driven,” says Chandra Sekhar Pulamarasetti of Sanovi Technology.



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