Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: What’s the Difference and Why it Matters?

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Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: What’s the Difference and Why it Matters?

Businesses of all sizes should think about their plans and preparations around backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. While often confused, each of these concepts is unique and needs to be considered separately by business leaders.

What are backups?

First, let’s start with some basic definitions. A “backup” is a resource that can be leveraged or activated in the event a primary resource is lost, stolen, destroyed, or interrupted. Data backups store copies of the critical business information kept on a server or cloud service. Other backups may include a backup internet access connection, backup power generator, or backup hardware, like a standby laptop computer, that can be activated in a crisis.

With regards to data backup, it is vital to understand that merely having a backup of data is never enough. Just because you have a good backup of your data, does not mean you will automatically avoid downtime. Businesses should care about not just having good backups, but having the ability to respond and recover from outages of all kinds, so that business processes and services are brought back to normal as quickly as possible.

What is disaster recovery?

Disaster recovery is the process getting a business system or business process restored and running in a normal fashion when there has been an outage of some kind. Backup and disaster recovery are often closely related, since successful disaster recovery often requires good quality backups of data and system configurations.

In the world of information technology, high quality and effective backup and disaster recovery is essential to so that an organization’s computers, servers and other essential business operations can be kept running and operating, even if a business is confronted with an everyday disaster or a site-wide disaster.

Backup and disaster recovery is a foundational Protek Support service which we offer to all of our clients. We customize our backup and disaster recovery services to the unique needs of each client.

While we have minimum standards, the needs of each client will differ based on their recovery point of objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO). RPO refers to how much data can be lost, if there is an outage. If your business can only handle losing an hour of data collection or entry it will need recovery points that are closer together, requiring more frequent backups.

RTO refers to how much downtime a company can handle before they start losing a significant amount of money. A very short RTO may mean that a business wants to be back up and running in minutes, rather than hours, in the event of an outage.

At Protek Support, we offer clients four different levels of backup and disaster recovery services. The stricter the RPO and RTO, the more software, storage, and cloud resources that are required to deliver on the client’s objectives. Suffice it to say, not all backup and disaster recovery solutions are created equally. The more stringent the requirements, the greater investment and the costs will be.

What is business continuity?

“Business continuity” allows an organization to maintain essential functions during a disaster or interruption of any kind. Basically it details how a business will continue to operate while also experiencing disruption. A complete business continuity plan will incorporate an organizations backup and disaster recovery plan, but it also involves so much more. While disaster recovery as described above is purely technical, business continuity spans more areas of planning. Importantly, a business continuity plan also captures the human dimension of effectively running an organization or company in a crisis.

A business continuity plan needs to make allowances for where people will work, where manufacturing and receiving locations operate, how communications with employees and customers are maintained, and how leadership structures and chains of command are sustained or adapted during a crisis.

For everyone living through the COVID-19 pandemic, it should be obvious that there are numerous additional dimensions to business continuity planning and preparations beyond the mere technical aspects of backup and disaster recovery. It is vital for organizations of all sizes to develop and document their business continuity plans and make the appropriate preparations and investments.

In partnership with our clients, Protek Support helps organizations define the technology aspects of business continuity plans, while delivering world-class backup and disaster recovery services which help form the foundation of a well crafted plan. New and existing clients should reach out to Michelle Lawson for a consultation on disaster recovery and business continuity planning.