IT Disaster Planning & Recovery

Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

Sudha has a Doctor of Education Degree and is currently working as a Information Technology Specialist.

In this lesson we will learn about Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP) for recovering data and infrastructure in case of an Information Technology (IT) system failure.

What is an IT Disaster?

Jane is a computer science student who received an internship at an Information Technology (IT) company that specializes in disaster recovery. Jane's not quite sure what is meant by an IT disaster. Her supervisor Mary explains that businesses depend on electronic communications such as email and Voice Over IP (VOIP), and also for more critical operations like exchanging information and transmitting data and payments.

Mary says that electronic data interchange (EDI) depends on hardware (computers and wireless devices), and software (word processing, databases) for day-to-day process management and information communication.

There are many ways in which sensitive data can be lost or destroyed, including hardware crashes, human errors, viruses, hackers, or malware. Mary explains that IT disasters should be avoided at all costs, as securing data is vital for the very existence of a company.

Internal Recovery Strategies

All businesses should have strategies for a disaster recovery plan (DRP)? Some of the components can be managed internally by the business, Mary explained, including:

  • creating an inventory of the hardware and software systems
  • identifying critical information and a plan in place to regularly back up data
  • having backup computers and servers for re-installation and replication of critical software and data
  • mirroring data and servers between two or more sites so that if one site fails the other site can take over

Jane learned that in the event of an IT disaster, the goal is to have the business up and running with minimal downtime and with little or no loss of data.

Vendor Supported Recovery Strategies

Jane was curious though - what if the internal recovery strategy is not successful? Can vendors help? Mary explains that yes, some businesses do not have the infrastructure to be able to manage their own internal recovery.

Many vendors provide tools and solutions that a business can purchase to ensure that all data and software applications are saved and can be retrieved at any time. Usually a subscription service from the vendor is required.

The data can be stored on physical machines, disks, or virtual servers all managed by the vendor. Vendors can offer disk imaging and replication, and recovery testing. Allowing vendors to manage the DRP allows for businesses to focus on their product and functions without having to worry about server failures and data losses.

Data Backup

One of the very important components in any disaster recovery process, Mary told Jane, was the need for a reliable data backup system. Data backup is the process of saving a real time duplicate copy of data that can be accessed immediately in case the original data is destroyed or corrupted.

When managed internally, data can be backed up to hard disks, magnetic tapes, servers, or in a different location managed by the business. If backup is managed by external vendors, data can be saved on the vendors servers or in cloud storage.

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