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IT Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity: What’s the Difference?

Posted On: July 19, 2016

Topic: Cloud & Hosting Solutions

it-disaster-recoveryWhen disaster strikes, no one takes the time to worry about words and definitions. Even though the terms Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC) are often used interchangeably, they have very different meanings. If your company is interchanging them incorrectly, it can leave your organization at significant risk. On the low-end, about $18,000; while on the high-end, we’re talking hundreds of millions. According to FEMA, about 40 percent of businesses do not reopen after a disaster.

Whether from a security breach, human error or natural disaster – data loss, downtime or network slowness are costly. Without an IT disaster recovery plan in place, a comprised network will have lasting implications. A 2015 Verizon DBIR report showed:

  • Small data breaches (loss of fewer than 100 records) on average costs businesses $18,120 to $35,730, but can range as high as $555,660.
  • Large data breaches (100 million+ records) could cost organizations up to $200 million, though the average is $5-15.6 million.  
  • In addition to the huge monetary loss, downtime also affects worker productivity and can lead to loss of customers.

Having a plan in place, for DR and BC, is critical. However, both require very different levels of planning. For example:

  • DR is Data-Centric: While extremely important in its own right, DR is actually a subset of BC planning. It is concerned with the process of replicating and storing data so that it is quickly recoverable in the event of a disaster. Data must be backed up and stored off-site. It must also be immediately accessible for recovery in the event of a disaster. A major factor is the overall speed of recovery and restoration. In some cases outside of a natural disaster, a local data backup, perhaps at a nearby building or within the corporate campus, will suffice. In situations where a disaster affects an entire city or region (e.g., tornado, flooding), remote backups will be necessary. Because you don’t know if a local or regional issue will occur, and depending on your organization’s asset criticality, a daily backup may be fine. For others, a fully-mirrored site with hot backup/restore capabilities may make more sense.
  • BC is Business-Centric: BC is far larger in scope. Business continuity is focused on the management oversight and planning needed to ensure the entire business can continue to operate with as little disruption as possible – both during and after a disaster. A comprehensive BC plan includes steps for recovering and continuing key business processes, including sales, manufacturing, customer support and billing.

    BC is also people-centric. It should ensure employees know where to go and what do in the event of a disaster. Is there an emergency phone number to call, an alternative office location to go to or a plan for working from home/remotely? Such scenarios must be worked out and communicated in advance – before disaster strikes.

Knowing the Difference and Planning Ahead

The cloud is a useful platform to address both BC and DR, but you must understand the differences for effective planning. Your organization must prioritize your data and systems by importance and determine what is critical to optimize recovery efforts. Another big consideration is to evaluate the cost to your business if an asset is lost or there is significant downtime. To ensure you right-size your efforts, first assess the value of each critical asset and determine a specific plan for each.

A failure to plan ahead can be detrimental to your business. If you don’t have a DR and BC plan in place, or if you haven’t examined yours for some time, OneNeck IT Solutions is here to help. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to learn about your plans, walk you through the options, and design and deploy a DR and BC plan that ensures your business is adequately protected.