Usually when we come across the word disaster, we think of natural calamities. However, since we are heavily dependent on computerised systems, a breakdown of the IT infrastructure is also known as a disaster. Only people who have faced a situation where they have lost all critical data will know how crippling this can be.
Now that most organisations use IT facilities for nearly all their operations, they are worried about how to deal with such a situation because they know that they cannot continue operations without uninterrupted access to data. Here are the factors that usually cause ‘disasters’, along with some effective disaster recovery techniques.
Natural disasters may cause IT disasters. Droughts, landslides, tornados, hurricanes, electrical storms, floods and freezing conditions may damage the buildings in which hardware is kept. Natural calamities also damage communication systems or cause fires and power cuts. Such events also adversely affect the critical hardware of companies. IT infrastructure may also be lost during wars, terrorist attacks and burglaries.
Since most people are now aware that an organisation can be brought to its knees if its IT system is sabotaged, disgruntled employees, agents of rival companies and hackers who wish to harm a company may intentionally corrupt or destroy the data. However, such damage may also be caused unintentionally due to mistakes of employees.
All organisations that rely on computers must have a disaster recovery plan so that they can continue to function even if they lose vital data or hardware. The best way to ensure that all critical documents are available in such a situation is to store them at an alternative site. An organisation may also store its data in a different country so that it remains protected from regional natural calamities. Some organisations give their data to service providers who store the data in multiple locations. This reduces the chances of data loss because chances of simultaneous system failure in all locations are lower.
It should also be remembered that aside from the data which is used on a daily basis, certain other documents are important for the survival of a business. For example, lists that contain details of emergency services, personnel, products, suppliers and distributors have to be kept up-to-date and secure. The standard procedures and policies of the company with regard to administration, recruitment, remuneration, health and safety matters, production and storage are another set of important documents. Though copies of agreements, contracts, floor plans, industry regulation and papers related to litigation are not required everyday, such documents must be stored safely because the company can not function in the long run without them.
A disaster recovery plan should take the operations of all departments of the organisation into account. Departments like maintenance, human resources, accounts, sales, public relations, marketing, online customer service, e-commerce, quality control and production depend on IT infrastructure. Since all these departments must work properly for an organisation to function effectively, none of them should be excluded from the disaster recovery plan.