Disaster Recovery

What is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster Recovery allows an organization to enact a plan designed to maintain or quickly resume mission-critical functions following a disaster. The impact of data loss or corruption from hardware failure, human error, hacking or malware could be significant, so a plan for data backup and restoration of electronic information is a basic requirement for any business that uses a computer.

While it can be expensive to eliminate any single point of failure in an IT infrastructure, having a disaster recovery plan that does this is the only way to insure that a hardware failure doesn’t interrupt your service or cause data loss. The more expensive and older solution has been to have your data backed up regularly.

Disaster Recovery Planning

Building a disaster recovery plan requires a smart and thoughtful approach, and following major guidelines when designing a DRP will help to ensure a comprehensive protection against loss. The plan should include a strategy to:

  • Compile an inventory of hardware, as hardware is the base point through which all other failures will occur. Using standardized hardware will help to recreate and reimage new hardware while maintaining low overhead.
  • Backup and catalog program software necessary to the business, as well as the software or hardware needed to fix any known problems.
  • Place the DRP into the business continuity plan, so as to guarantee exposure and absorption by all levels of the business.
  • Test the plan occasionally to make sure that it works.

  • Build recovery strategies to anticipate the loss of one or more of the critical system components.
  • Contact all key personnel as needed, as well as the Disaster Recovery team.

  • Repair hardware and locate necessary components
  • Deal with possible financial and legal issues

Disaster Recovery Service Levels

Distance is a key element of a disaster recovery site. In the 1980s, the Share Technical Steering Committee, working with IBM, built a list of disaster recovery service levels, using a system of tiers from 0 through 6 (an addendum years later added a 7th tier):

Tier 0 - No off-site data. Recovery is only possible using on-site systems. 

Tier 1 - Physical backup with a cold site. Data, likely on tape, is transported to an off-site facility that does not have the necessary hardware installed.

Tier 2 - Physical backup with a hot site. Data, likely on tape, is transported to an off-site facility that has the necessary hardware installed to support key systems of the primary site. 

Tier 3 - Electronic vaulting. Data is electronically transmitted to a hot site.

Tier 4 - Point-in-time copies/active secondary site. Vital data is copied across the primary and secondary sites, each site backing up the other. Disk is often used in this tier.

Tier 5- Two-site commit/transaction integrity. Data is continuously transmitted across sites. 

Tier 6 - Minimal to zero data loss. Recovery is instantaneous, often involving disk mirroring or replication.

Tier 7 - Later added to include automation, and it represents the highest level of availability in disaster recovery scenarios. In general, while the ability to recover improves with the next highest tier, costs also increase.

Disaster Recovery as a Service

The decrease in expenses has enabled cloud based Disaster Recovery services become adoptly more widely. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) has made DR easier and cheaper, which in turn is allowing more organizations to be more effectively prepared without spending outside of their scope. Some of the positives of DRaaS include lower cost, easier deployment, a higher ease of regular testing, and increased flexibility, as companies can sign up for only the services they need. DR tests can be completed by simply spinning up temporary instances. One issue that is theorized, is that cloud-based disaster recovery may not be as effective after a large-scale disaster, since there may not be enough room at the DR site to run every DRaaS user's applications. Cloud DR also increases bandwidth needs and could degrade network performance.

Why Disaster Recovery is Important

Creating an effective and smart Disaster Recovery plan helps organizations minimize the very real threat of economic loss, disruption to operations, and diminished brand credibility, when faced with an unforeseen disaster. It allows for an organized and controlled recovery, ensuring security and proper return of service with minimal issue. As always online becomes a necessary function of all enterprises, a Disaster Recovery plan is the true test of the quality of life and success a business can have when challenged by unforeseen consequences.

Learn More About Disaster Recovery

Further Reading

How Barracuda Can Help

Barracuda Backup is an affordable, integrated local and offsite data backup and disaster recovery solution. With lightning quick restore times through local storage along with secure offsite copies, it is the perfect addition to any company's disaster recovery plan.

Do you have more questions about Disaster Recovery? Contact us today.