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A disaster recovery plan is a strategy for restoring normal operations and protecting an organization's information technology infrastructure following a disaster. As a result, the major goal of a DRP is to effectively and swiftly restore normal computer operations capabilities in order to minimize the consequences of the disaster on business activities.
A DRP, according to Snedaker (2013), is an essential component of a business continuity plan that is applied to components of a company that rely on IT infrastructure to function. Because a DRP is a component of business continuity planning, the two should never be designed separately. Although the terms DRP and business continuity planning are sometimes used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings. Business continuity planning refers to the methods used to create and validate plans which are used to ensure continuous business operations. A business continuity plan is proactive whereas a DRP is reactive. Unlike a DRP that focuses on restoring business functions after a disaster, a business continuity plan endeavours to mitigate the impacts of unplanned incidents (Snedaker, 2013). Therefore, the major purpose of business continuity planning is to help a business carry out a faster recovery and to ensure that organizational assets and personnel are protected following the occurrence of a disaster.
What businesses include in their DRP differs depending on the business location, model, and customer type. However, when developing a DRP, there are a number of key elements that every business must consider. The first element is the communication plan and role assignment. Ensuring that there is effective communication is vital when it comes to disasters. It is natural that employees will ask questions and will require a quick response when a disaster strikes. Therefore, it is essential to have alternative methods of contact for communicating to employees. Similarly, in the event of an emergency, every employee should understand clearly what their role is (Snedaker, 2013). This is important because it helps to minimize stress and improves communication in the recovery process.
The most important element of a DRP is the recovery process, it must prioritize the business assets and critical applications that must be protected first in the event of a disaster. Moreover, a good DRP must be flexible and should frequently be updated. For example, if an organization adds a new technology, the new technology must be included in the DRP of that organization. For this reason, it is essential to test the DRP regularly to make sure it can certify optimum performance in the event of a disaster striking. Also, a good DRP must include the precautions required to minimize the adverse effects of the disasters (Snedaker, 2013). Speed is crucial in minimizing the damages that a disaster can cause. For this reason, a good DRP should not have hundreds of pages as this will make it difficult to implement. Instead, it should have clear and direct instructions and include a checklist of required tasks for each recovery scenario.
A disaster recovery plan spends tens or hundreds of dollars on consulting fee to develop. It is therefore important to test it to make sure it will work in the event of a disaster striking. Simulation is one of the most known methods of testing a DRP. It involves all the designated recovery personnel going through a simulated disaster to determine whether the emergency response plans are adequate (Snedaker, 2013). A structured walkthrough is another method used to test a DRP. This is whereby a team of experts in the organization go through all the plans to identify issues and changes. In another test, the recovery systems are set up to see if they can function well in the event of a disaster striking. At the same time, live production computers still carry the full production workload. This method is called parallel test, and it is advantageous because it enables the analysts to compare data on live production computers with data on the recovery systems (Snedaker, 2013). Checklist/Paper test involves reading through the DRP documentation. It is one of the starting places, but it should be used with other methods because, by itself, it is an inadequate way of testing a disaster recovery plan. Cutover/Interruption test is almost similar to parallel test because both the primary computers and the recovery systems are used. However, in an interruption test, the primary computers are disconnected, and the recovery systems are left to take the full production workload (Snedaker, 2013). It is important to test a DRP to make sure that it will not fail when a disaster strikes.
Snedaker, S. (2013). Business continuity and disaster recovery planning for IT professionals. Newnes.
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