How to Implement a Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity Plan

In this era of downsizing, small and midsize businesses are rethinking their disaster recovery and business continuity plans. While some SMBs have implemented their backup plans from the start, most have relied on backup and disaster recovery as an afterthought, implementing strategies only when needed. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Thomas Nieto explains how SMBs can best develop and execute their disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

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Disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity solutions are a necessity for every business, large or small. It is an investment in the future of your small or midsize business and should be proactively approached rather than left as an afterthought. Each organization's data recovery plan is unique. But one basic solution can still be recommended for every small and midsize business: the implementation of continuous data protection combined with disk image backups and off-site storage.

The steps to achieve this level of security and peace of mind include line-of-business (LOB) analysis of mission-critical data, creation of DR and business continuity policy, the formulation of a strategic implementation plan and the execution of that implementation plan. Let's take a look at these steps in detail:

Step No. 1: LOB analysis of mission-critical data

Like any other project, you first need to start by analyzing your current status. The key here is that business continuance as a well-thought-out and executed DR plan will make or break an organization. Begin with a three-step approach to developing a successful backup and data recovery strategy:

1. Discovery: Interview the key players such as top-level directors, managers, team leaders and employees to determine mission-critical data. All e-mail systems, Web data, accounting systems and industry-specific proprietary software should be analyzed to determine the value to the organization if it becomes temporarily unavailable or is lost forever.

2. Analyze: Perform cost-benefit analysis to determine tolerance to downtime and loss of data-be it a temporary downtime or complete failure and loss leading to the need for data re-creation. Difficult decisions about data relevancy also need to be made with the associated cost of ownership and regulatory provisions.

3. Plan: Determine what solutions are viable, within budget range, and provide security and peace of mind to the stakeholders. The key determinations are downtime, restoration time and redundancy of data backup solutions.