What is disaster recovery?

Disaster recovery (DR) covers an organisation’s strategy and ability to effectively recover from unplanned incidents or events that negatively impact on their operations. This can include anything from a natural disaster such as a flood, cyber attack by a malicious actor or other external factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Disaster recovery works by minimising the effects of unplanned incidents, enabling key operations to continue to run, regardless of the source. Unlike business continuity, which involves keeping all essential business functions running, disaster recovery is focused on uptime of critical functions with the help of technology.

Types of disaster recovery

Disaster recovery can be facilitated in different ways, with the most common including:

Backup: This type of disaster recovery is the process of creating an extra copy or copies of data, ensuring that sensitive information isn’t lost in the case of catastrophe leading to deletion of the main files.

Cold site: This is a backup facility that contains little to no hardware equipment. The purpose of these spaces is to have a cost effective office area that contains essentials such as power and communication equipment in the case of disaster to the main site.

Hot site: Unlike a cold site, this contains the exact same setup that would be found on the primary site, containing the same connectivity, software and hardware. While likely to be more expensive, this allows organisations to get up and running within hours or even minutes.

Cloud Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS): This service is where an organisation’s data and IT infrastructure is stored with a third party in a cloud computing environment, with the third party providing all DR capabilities, usually via a SaaS solution.

Data centre disaster recovery: Plans for disaster recovery in the data centre focus on restoring the facility following a disaster and bringing critical data and IT infrastructure back to normal operation.

Virtualisation: This type of disaster recovery is where servers are containerised into virtual machines, independent from hardware. This provides flexibility as organisations don’t need to replicate physical servers at primary and secondary sites.

Instant disaster recovery: This is where an instantly accessible backup snapshot on a virtual machine can be temporarily accessed almost immediately after a failure or disaster takes place.

Point-in-time copies: These allow for data to be restored from an earlier point in time before the disaster took place, to enable the business to quickly recover from an unforeseen event.

Disaster recovery planning

What is disaster recovery plan?

The purpose of a disaster recovery plan is to cover the policies, tools and procedures that describes how an organisation can resume operations quickly after an unplanned incident.

Disaster recovery plan usually compromised of the core three areas:

Prevention: This includes the implementation of surge protectors, generators or effective backups that would help prevent a disaster from taking place.

Detection: Regular inspections or checks can help detect any new threats that could cause a disaster.

Correction: This is crucial for after a disaster has taken place, and is likely to include a reflective session of what went wrong and how a plan can be better implemented next time.

The top elements of an effective disaster recovery plan

The main elements of an effective disaster recovery plan include:

Risk evaluation: This assessment covers the potential risks that could impact on the functioning of an organisation. This includes both natural and man-made disasters.

Business-critical asset identification: With critical functions usually being those that allow organisational missions to be completed, these need to be identified.

Backups: Frequent backups need to be taken of the most up-to-date data available to ensure they can be used in the event of a disaster

Disaster recovery team: An effective team of individuals should have jurisdiction over planning, implementing, auditing, maintaining and testing for a disaster recovery plan

Testing and optimisations: Testing is crucial to find out if the plan is fit for purpose, while optimisation allows for improvements

The ten step plan to successful disaster recovery

The following ten steps and disaster recovery best practices make up this comprehensive plan:

  1. Put an inventory together: Understanding all of the IT resources that are used in the organisation is a vital first step, and which would be most affected by a disaster.
  1. Devise recovery timelines: Here, it’s important to consider the Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which is the maximum time that the business is willing to wait before IT systems recover, while the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) defines the time permissible since the most recent data backup for IT systems to recover.
  1. Talk to employees: Professionals should talk to employees to ascertain the impact on them in the case of system or network downtime.
  1. Put a backup in place: The best options are those based in the cloud, off-site and supported by a vendor, and deciding which data should be backed up is critical.
  1. Plan for physical damage: If natural disaster is the reason for outage, such as a power outage, a backup generator may be needed to keep power immediately following a disaster.
  1. Explore insurance options: Replacing IT equipment can be expensive, so insurance may be needed.
  1. Consider employee access: Certain employees don’t need access to the network or its associated privileges, so restricting this is useful to reducing unintentional or malicious harm caused by someone within the business.
  1. Test: The disaster recovery plan should be tested at least once a year, with any gaps then accounted for.
  1. Incorporate into a business continuity plan: The disaster recovery plan needs to effectively integrate into the wider business continuity plan.
  1. Work with the right partners: Looking at all available options is crucial to ensure that the service matches the organisation’s needs.

Advantages of a disaster recovery plan

  • Cost savings due to limits on revenue losses
  • Faster recovery from an incident
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved customer retention
  • Compliance with regulations
  • Scalability due to the use of cloud solutions
  • Employee responsibility and task allocation
  • Asset and network management

Disaster recovery in Telehouse

Telehouse provides over 40 carrier-neutral data centres across the globe in the US, EMEA and APAC, which work together with our disaster recovery cloud services and data centre managed services. N+1 redundancy means that infrastructure components have at least one backup power source.

Disaster recovery solutions can provide space planning and workstations that can accommodate both front and back office in the case of an unexpected disaster. Our managed services solutions are designed to work seamlessly with our customers’ backup and disaster recovery plans, and uptime is delivered based on our customers’ RTO and RPO.

Take a look at our full list of services here.

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