What is disaster recovery and why is it important to businesses?

What is disaster recovery and why is it important to businesses?

Disaster recovery forms a big part of a company’s business continuity plan.  While business continuity sets out controls to keep all aspects of business functioning when a disaster hits, disaster recovery primarily focuses on IT and its systems that support business functions in the case of a disaster.

The importance of disaster recovery is becoming more and more of a top agenda point for Chief Executives as we continue to depend on computer systems.   With the increasing dependency on IT systems as well as a growth in various disasters reported in the media including 9/11 and the London bombings a gap in the market has been spotted resulting with many disaster recovery related companies available.

Despite the increasing number of public disasters many companies are still not prepared for a disaster.  With only about 50% of companies reporting to having a disaster recovery plan in place.  Of those companies that do have a plan in place nearly half of these companies have never tested their plan.  In these cases it is pointless having a plan in place.

IT systems are critical to the smooth running of a company and this is why it is important to ensure these systems continue to operate efficiently and are not disrupted.

Systems and networks are becoming ever more complex, meaning more and more things can go wrong.  Some fifteen years ago if there was a threat to a system, a disaster recovery plan may include powering down the mainframe and other computers.  Current systems tend to be too complicated to have such a hands on approach.

It has been reported that many large companies spend between 2% to 4% of their IT budget on disaster recover planning.  It is also not unusual for a company to spend up to 25% of their IT budget.  The plan is to minimise the risk of significant loss to infrastructure.  Lack of preparation can lead to significant monies and time being spent on repair.

As much as a company can minimise risk there are many disasters that cannot be avoided.  Disasters can either be classified as natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods and manmade disasters such as infrastructure failure and material spills.  A disaster may not be eliminated but can be reduced to a minimum.

The disaster recovery plan is an essential business document it can prevent severe loss of data which can have a serious financial impact which can also result in loss of customer confidence, damaging a company’s reputation.

Having a disaster recovery plan in place can give a company a competitor edge, for if a disaster was unfortunately going to happen.  If a natural disaster was to occur then most companies may suffer due to no plan in place.  But for those companies that have prepared can continue to provide goods and services to their customers and suppliers and continue “business as usual” potentially gaining new custom also.

A disaster recovery plan should be clear and concise, focusing on key activities/functions required to recover IT services.  It should be tested, reviewed and updated on a regular basis.  It is vital the plan has an owner to ensures these things happen.

Planning for the unknown and nothing should then be a surprise!

creative by SFTHQ’s

About the Author

Mark Jefferson
Mark Jefferson is a seasoned commercial finance professional with over 25 years’ experience in financial services, much of that spent providing funding to SMEs. Mark has worked with many other firms in a similar situation to yours. Call Mark on 01451 832533 and you can also follow him on Google+

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