When major disasters strike, institutions find out that disaster recovery is not just about how they back up data — but how quickly their planning returns them to normal. As educational institutions become more dependent on their computer data, the cost of losing access to that information is measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The key to solving the problem is not completely technology based; an IT department needs a good disaster recovery plan for when the worst happens. A disaster recovery plan needs to cover cyber-attacks, hardware failures, user failure, sabotage and natural disasters.
Many just back-up the data daily on drives and disks and send it off-site believing that it is secure. While a basic disaster recovery plan looks good on paper, it lacks a business process that covers what an IT department should do if something goes wrong and how that data can be restored to the business. It is not as if this plan is never going to be used; figures from Storage Sweden suggest that data needs to be restored about five to 10 percent of their backed up data on an annual basis. First, it will need to carry out a risk assessment and a business analysis to find out which part of the institution’s structure is critical and has the highest priority for the most resources.
This forward planning will reveal previously unidentified technology problems, and allow for effective counter measure. This prevents the sort of problems, which blighted the recovery of the New Orleans Civil District Court’s computer system. The DRP plan called for older data to be purged to save space, which meant that back-ups were not actually being completed. Finally, it is recommended that IT departments organize disaster drills similar to those carried out by civil defense organizations in earthquake zones, such as San Francisco.
While this sounds gloomy, when people are ready for the worst, it is more likely that when disaster strikes, the IT department can fix the problem quickly.
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. In my last article, “Where Recovery Begins,” I discussed the importance of prioritizing your critical data. Backup options: Company data should be securely backed up offsite and available for recovery at any time. Dress rehearsal: Practice a recovery process every few months to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Check the location of your critical data: Make sure you know where the critical data is stored at your company. Assume that your normal methods of communication during a disaster or emergency will not be functioning. It is imperative that your employees know where to go and what to do if your office or computers are down. Designate and prepare for alternative working sites and suggest remote work facilities for a temporary period.
Distribute the plan to all employees and upload a copy where it can be accessed by everyone. Put a copy of the plan somewhere that won’t be affected by data failure or office evacuation. Jennifer Walzer is the CEO and Founder of BUMI, an online backup and recovery provider that serves over 500 businesses. Contracting with hotels is a much more complex process than people may think, especially when it’s on a contingency basis.


And, Jennifer, thanks for sharing your thoughts on DR and getting the conversation rolling. Founded in 2003, Small Business Trends is an award-winning online publication for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the people who interact with them.
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As networking bandwidth improved this basic back-up plan included wiring the data to a specialist software vendor who has data center sites in other regions. While that might not sound like much, it is the equivalent of 18- 36 days of a business year recovering from some disaster or another. The standard says that any plan should define a response to an incident and lay out an action plan. For example, one of the biggest issues is that backup software is unreliable or misconfigured. According to The Times-Picayune newspaper, in 2010 the software responsible for the court’s backups started garbling back-up data. This was not noticed until the servers containing all of the conveyance and mortgage records crashed and the court needed to carry out an urgent restore. Arranging a drill soon after a disaster recovery plan is developed is vital, particularly if a company has recruited a new data backup provider.
Not only will they have the backed up data, they will know that it works, and how to use it.
Senior Systems Advantage is modular, scalable, and customizable, enabling us to effectively meet the needs of both small and large institutions.
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. Businesses need to determine what data they would need immediately to continue functioning after a disaster or loss of corporate data. A business can’t function going forward if they can’t retrieve their critical data after a disaster. An excellent way to do this is via online backup whereby a company’s data is backed up each night and stored far away from the company’s location. If people store their data on their desktops instead of the file server, make sure all desktops are backed up. These services allow you to forward office lines or even create virtual lines that can be accessed from anywhere. That process will show you where you’re backup is insufficient and the difficulty of the process may lead you to consider a more robust solution (with tech support). I love DropBox as a storage method as it gives everyone in your office access to shared information and also backs everything up in case of emergency. Boot up Order, Server dependencies, Vendor Contact information and everything else you would need to Rebuild your IT infrastructure in a Disaster Recovery Scenario?


More recently cloud-based offerings from the likes of EMC, HP, Oracle, Amazon and Microsoft have also helped make such back-ups more reliable and affordable. That means that up to 304 man-hours can be allocated every year to disaster recovery and the added workload could push back other IT projects and deployments. This plan should be so detailed and everyone is trained to know what to do at the right time. Most experts believe that a good disaster recovery back-up plan should include some form of automation and testing to eliminate such errors. This enables an institution to see clearly how data will be returned and what steps are needed to make it usable. 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.
Once the business defines the significance of all of their data, they can begin to develop their disaster recovery plan. Most people don’t think it will happen to them, but all it takes is one small instance to ruin a company.
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. A properly structured plan is comprised of three components: data, communication, and people.
The best protection against such a scenario is a well thought-out plan that’s been tested and communicated to everyone. Creating quality DR documentation is one of those things that is easy to overlook, but one of the most important things in any business. 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. If our phones went down, we would be able to immediately forward our calls to Grasshoppers 800 number which would then forward our calls to our personal cell numbers. Now-a-Days, Data is priceless – and every moment the systems are down it will most likely end up costing the company shit-loads of money. Performing poorly in a DR Scenario due to poor documentation, testing, or planning could very easily cost you your job. If you have done a bit of research already trying to find a comprehensive DR Plan Template you probably have already discovered that there isn’t a really good free option available. When I started creating my own guides – I actually went through the restore process as I documented it.
While the same thing can be accomplished in a simple Excel document – I encourage you to improve your own documentation whenever possible. Documenting your Backup procedures will allow you to accomplish 2 very important things.It will afford you the chance to go through each Server, DB, VM, etc. If you feel there is something missing from the list, I encourage you to share in the comments below ??  0 Subscribe to our mailing list Signing you up!
I’m glad I was able to help in documenting your DR process – I know first hand how daunting that task can be Fanus Swanepoel Hi There Ryan, thank you for the info, I would like to read more on the DR Procedure Guides section but the link seems to be broken, can you please let us know if the info is still available?




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