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.
The March 26, 2015 massive explosion and fire in  New York’s  East Village caused the collapse of three buildings and fire damage to a fourth — a reminder that natural gas continues to be a threat, particularly where the gas lines are aging – as they all are! At one of your Emergency Response Team meetings, I’m sure you’ve discussed the threat posed by natural gas.


Large-diameter transmission lines may run near or even through your neighborhood, with smaller-diameter distribution lines connecting to individual residences or buildings. However, from a SAFETY standpoint it is imperative for First Responders to know how to shut the system down in an emergency.
Shut-off valves may be located at the individual home, at the building, at the street, and in other places along the system.
In the Northridge Quake of 1994, managers of an affected mobile home park saw that gas escaping through the streets was being ignited by cars of residents evacuating the park. How likely is it that authorized and trained people will be on hand in an emergency, when immediate action may be required? In the deadly 2010 explosion and fire in San Bruno, California, it took the gas company over 60 minutes to get the gas shut off! The gas distribution system has thousands of miles of pipeline that operate safely nearly all the time.
Pipeline failure Leaks and breaks occur when old pipes fail due to corrosion, improper welds or joins, improperly installed equipment, too much pressure – or as the result of natural events such as an earthquake. One of our most effective guest speakers was a representative from the Fire Department who talked about the various gas lines in our neighborhood. Your invitation will cause that Fire Official to update his or her knowledge about your neighborhood, as well as remind your neighbors to be more alert.
Want to get a reminder once in a while to help you stay tuned in and up to speed on the latest preparedness issues? Click here to subscribe to our Advisories. Resources for TEAM BuildersGet this new list of resources for building NEIGHBORHOOD and WORKPLACE teams.
Illnesses, injuries, carbon monoxide poisoning, animals & insects, food, water, cleanup, mold, environmental concerns, and coping with a disaster. This infographic includes important tips on being ready before and during an earthquake.Be Ready!
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. Find out more about your own home and neighborhood and how to avoid or respond to a gas leak.
If you haven’t, or if it’s time for a review, here are some questions to start the conversation. It was a shock for us to learn that they did NOT know exactly where our gas main shut-offs are located! However, to the extent that you do know where lines and valves are located, you should find out what it takes to shut the gas off.
In an emergency, shutting off the gas to the home likely means shutting it off at the meter.
When it comes to shutting off gas at a larger line, the shut-off may be a larger version of the wrench turn off, or it may operate with a large wheel and gear. Unfortunately, management was unable to break the lock to turn off the gas at the main so it continued to fuel these fires. Remember, the gas utility probably “owns” the system up to the meter; you, as property owner, own everything on the house side of the meter. In a widespread disaster, Fire fighters may not reach you immediately; representatives of the gas company may also be delayed, perhaps indefinitely. The first concern of the system operator is to maintain the appropriate pressure in the system based on the size of the pipes and the number of connections to it.
Start by reviewing this Emergency Plan Guide Advisory, and then research and distribute gas line safety bulletins that you can get from your own local gas utility.
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. 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.
What you need to be concerned about is a build-up of gas around a leak or as the result of gas “migrating” to an area where it gets trapped, such as in a basement, under a house, etc.
Nevertheless is important to consider documenting the scope of these natural risks in as much detail as possible.




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