Though the terms disaster recovery and business continuity are used interchangeably, these are two different concepts. To effectively plan for disaster recovery and business continuity of an organization, the concepts have to be understood before proceeding.
The term disaster recovery is the process of having the redundancies needed to recover your lost data, data centers, servers and/or other infrastructure in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. The Disaster Recovery Plan helps the entire organization recover from a disaster such as natural calamity. The calamity may entail loss of lives of critical personnel but due to an effective Disaster Recovery Plan in place, the survivors know what is expected of each one of them. Duties are assigned, redundant equipment and services are activated and the business moves to normality with minimal loss of time. However, the plan must be well thought out and rehearsed, time and again, so that each and every employee knows what is expected of him or her in the event of a disaster. The faster the Disaster Recovery Plan enables an organization to get back to the production stage, means lower losses of revenue and retention of customers goodwill.
On the other hand, the term business continuity relates to a strategy which lets the business avoid disaster (when possible) and operate with minimal downtime or service outage. The Business Continuity Plan focuses on recovering data and restoring production in the shortest possible time. The plan will utilize redundant facilities to restore the data. To ensure that the data can be restored with minimal loss, the Business Continuity Plan should analyze and factor in the Recovery Time Objective and Recovery Point Objective. For such a plan to succeed anything that could fail needs a backup. Equipment, personal, physical location etc. should have alternatives. Therefore, it can be seen that some aspects of Business Continuity Plan do overlap those of the Disaster Recovery Plan.
Both disaster recovery and business continuity solutions must factor in the downtime permitted by the company against the funds allotted for these functions. Depending on the business, the criticality of the data will vary. The more critical the data, the greater the investment that need to be made. In some businesses, even the loss of a few seconds of data may translate into millions of dollars of lost revenue and customers. In these type of businesses, it is essential that the changeover from production stage, to either disaster recovery or business continuity mode, be as smooth and seamless as possible.
Irrespective of the strategy pursued by different companies for disaster recovery and business continuity, data protection is of paramount concern. If you lose critical data you may lose track of what you should bill a client, keep track of what they owe you, your liabilities towards vendors and services, inventory control, manufacturing processes and designs, contractual obligations etc. If your DRBC Plans are poorly thought out and executed, you will lose the competitive edge to your business competitors and this may impact not only the bottom line of the company balance sheet, but also may pose an existential future threat.
The problem is not about whether to implement disaster recovery of business continuity solutions. These plans are imperative and cannot be ignored. Rather, the solution lies in a balance of both, with funds allotted by the management being used in the most judicious manner. This will mean that both the Disaster Recovery Plan and the Business Continuity Plan are adequate to insulate the business sufficiently.
Since Disaster Recovery Plans and Business Continuity Plans are essentially backups, Managers generally feel that they detract from the bottom line rather than protect it. Managers may have to fight the system to ensure that the disaster recovery and Business Continuity Plans get sufficient and adequate funding. At times, it may make sense to outsource these plans, since it generally leads to lower costs with higher efficiency.