What does disaster recovery planning actually mean?
Disaster recovery planning encompasses a set of policies, processes and technologies that insure a business's viability in case of disaster. When a disaster occurs, the disaster recovery plan's aim is to restore an acceptable level of operations within an acceptable time period.
The key parts of that definition are "acceptable level of operations" and "acceptable time period." The overarching goal of disaster recovery is to save your business time and money. To that end, spending large amounts to backup and recover every piece of data instantly isn't necessary if every piece isn't a business critical component. Setting the appropriate level of operations and time period to limit business damage can be a smart way to decrease the expense of backup and recovery by a considerable amount.
What is the most important idea that every disaster recovery plan should incorporate?
Whether it is backing up data or creating alternate means of communication, the fundamental concept behind disaster recovery planning is redundancy. Having redundant systems (and the processes that support them) can allow a business to return to functionality with the least amount of trouble.
How do I go about creating a disaster recovery plan?
As is often the case, the first step that a company must do when creating a disaster recovery plan is to have a firm understanding of its fundamental processes. This information will determine the systems, information, processes etc that need to be available for a business to be viable. Once that analysis has been completed, a company can begin planning for disaster.
At this point, the decision making process becomes a cost/benefit comparison between the proportion of the business that is backed up and the cost of creating that redundancy. Obviously, in an ideal situation, a company could recover an exact replica of its business with a single click of a button. In reality, however, the cost of that would be prohibitive. Each business will be different, but the line between "must have" and "would like to have" components will inform a business what areas of their business a company should cover.
What are the biggest myths about disaster recovery planning?
One of the biggest myths is that only large businesses with huge amounts of capital can adequately plan and prepare for a disaster. That might have been true fifteen years ago, but it's no longer the case. Because the cost of storage and bandwidth have decreased so much in the past decade and a half, backup and disaster recovery are options that all businesses should incorporate.
Another myth is that disaster planning is too complex to be worthwhile if a business isn't in a disaster hot spot. The fact of the matter is that disasters can take many different forms and can happen anywhere. While planning ahead might require some effort now, that requirement is dwarfed by the effort required to recover after a disaster takes out 90% of a business's data. Not only can disaster recovery planning save you time after the fact, but the steps involved in creating a plan can often help streamline existing business processes.