In our modern society of constant internet availability and round-the-clock global workforces, your business needs to be able to rely on its computer technology to keep your network, website, and business operations up and running. In the case of a disaster—a loss or destruction of data or other incident that interrupts your business—you need to be able to quickly get back up on your feet and into the game.
These two concepts are called “business continuity planning” and “disaster recovery.” Because they are similar in some ways—they are “backup plans” in case of failure or emergency rather than normal, everyday operating procedures—they are frequently discussed together as “BC/DR.” However, they are not interchangeable. It can be a huge mistake to assume that backing up your data and computer assets in the event of a disaster will automatically assure business continuity. Similarly, putting systems in place to ensure business continuity may not necessarily protect your organization’s valuable data.
Business Continuity Planning: Aiming for No Downtime
Even the slightest downtime in today’s unified environment could be harmful for your business. A website that is offline or an automated system that is malfunctioning could cost millions in lost business, improper packaging, shipping and distribution errors, or worse. Every minute your systems are offline can snowball into bigger and bigger losses for your company.
But websites, servers, networks, and computer systems are vulnerable to physically disruptive events like fires, earthquakes, and theft as well as virtual disruptive events like malware, viruses, and hacking. The goal of business continuity planning is to ensure uninterrupted service and access for your entire organization no matter what the emergency, allowing nearly instantaneous recovery from a disruptive event and minimizing the costs associated with operational downtime. The challenge is to have pre-defined and automatic procedures and systems set up that quickly and effectively allow your organization to resume normal operations with little to no downtime.
A functional business continuity plan implements a backup or alternate system until your original system can be restored to full functionality, kind of like a backup generator works to keep the lights and machinery on during an electrical outage until the regular power grid can be restored to normal operations. Business continuity planning helps assure an organization’s ability to provide uninterrupted service and support for its customers and helps ensure a business can maintain its viability both during and in the aftermath of a disaster.
Disaster Recovery: Getting Back to Normal
Disaster recovery, on the other hand, is the process of getting your systems, application, and data back to normal functionality following a disruptive event. Whether the event is something huge like a natural disaster or something small like a contained computer virus, your disaster recovery plan should cover how your company will bounce back. It should address how your organization will prepare for a disaster, what the company’s response will be in the event of a disaster, and what steps it will take to ensure that operations are restored to normal after a disaster.
Obviously, your disaster recovery plan must be flexible and include many possible scenarios, since disruptive events can vary greatly in size and scope. It should encompass strategies to appropriately back up both your data and programs as well as envision a plan to handle replacing hardware, software, and components if necessary.
- Using software as a service (SaaS) rather than individual copies of programs installed on local hard drives can be a component of a plan to minimize replacement costs in the event of a natural disaster that requires replacement of your business machines.
- Regular backups of data in multiple formats (on site, off site, and in the cloud) can ensure that your data recovery is smooth and complete.
BC/DR: How to Develop Complementary, Comprehensive Plans
Creating business continuity and disaster recovery plans that adequately protect your organization’s data, get you through a disaster with little to no downtime, and help quickly restore your operations to normal is a highly individualized process. You should consult with a knowledgeable IT professional to evaluate how to make sure you are comprehensively protected so your business will suffer as little disruption, downtime, and loss as possible in case of an emergency. Having a company that provides managed IT services, with a focus on proactive prevention of computer issues, can cover your organization's disaster recovery and business continuity process needs in one step.
Dymin Computer System’s comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery solutions will help you protect your business’s computer assets and help minimize your downtime. Call Dymin today at (800) 811-3661 to find out how we can help you get your plans in place before it's too late.