Disaster recovery is actually an entire process containing all of the policies and procedures that are used to prepare for the recovery or continuation of technology infrastructures after a natural or human-caused disaster. Typically all large businesses and organizations have one of these plans in effect because it covers the technology infrastructure that is vital to the organization; they must have their systems up and running in order to function properly. This is why such a plan is so important.
This form of plan typically focuses on IT and/or technology systems that are used to support various types of business functions. Continuity, on the other hand, involves the planning necessary to keep all aspects of a business or organization functioning during disruptive events. Recovery is actually a subset of a business continuity plan.
Research shows that the implementing an all-around pre-disaster planning approach is much more cost-effective over time. For every dollar that is spend on a recovery plan saves taxpayers at least $4 in recovery and response costs. That is a lot of money when you consider the expense of a disaster.
IT systems have become more and more critical to the smooth operation of an organization or business and society and the economy as a whole, the importance of maintaining those system operations, and the rapid recovery if necessary, is constantly increasing. Statistics prove this by showing that out of companies that suffer a major loss of data, 43% do not reopen, and another 29% close within just two years. This shows the gravity and necessity of a working recovery plan. While this does involve time and a significant investment of money, it can ensure minimal losses and potentially save a company.
Companies usually hire a recovery planner that will take care of all planning and associated cost analysis. Before selecting a strategy, the planner will refer to the business continuity plan that will indicate the recovery point and time objective for different business processes, such as payroll. These metrics are then mapped to IT systems and infrastructure supporting these processes.
The most common strategies used for data protection are online backup, backups to tape that are sent off-site or backups made directly to an off-site disk, and data replication to an off-site location. Many companies are now using virtualization for their recovery plan as well.
Virtualization consists of creating a virtual, instead of an actual, version of something. This can include, but is not limited to, a computer hardware platform, storage device, network resources, and even an operating system.
Many companies opt to outsource this job and choose a provider to offer a stand-by site and systems instead of using their own remote facility, often by cloud computing. Cloud computing is a phrase that basically describes a large number of computers connected by a real-time communication network, like the Internet. Cloud computing takes concepts from utility computing so that it can provide metrics for used services, which is essential to the feedback loop in autonomic computing, which allows services to perform automatic failure recovery. This is what makes cloud computing an excellent part of any recovery plan.