Process for Information System Disaster Recovery: Roles & Aspects

Instructor: Vignesh Sivabalan

Viignesh has an MS in information technology.

Disaster recovery is an important phase in the business continuity plan for any organization. In this lesson, we will define disaster recovery and learn about the various teams involved. We will also discuss their responsibilities in carrying out recovery operations.

Disaster Recovery Defined

Disaster recovery (DR) consists of the policies, procedures and processes involved in restoring crucial business operations. These include recovery of workspace (desktop), communication (telephone and network), data access (software, hardware and databases) and other processes involved in business execution after a disaster.

The Importance of IT Disaster Recovery:

Many threats exist which can take down modern-day business operations. Some of these include:

  • Cyber attacks
  • Power outages
  • Equipment failure
  • Social engineering
  • Data decentralization
  • Fires
  • Virus and spam attacks
  • Employee negligence

It is critical to recover after a disaster in order to resume business (business continuance) with minimal loss. For example, if the data center of a company experiences a power outage, there is a need to recover quickly to meet the needs of demanding customers.

DR Participants, Responsibilities and Processes

Many teams take part in the disaster recovery process. Figure 1 outlines these teams. Each one is then described in greater detail.

Figure 1: Disaster Recovery Participants

Disaster Management Team

This team is responsible for supplying overall direction for recovering business operations. The Disaster Management (DM) Team ascertains damage levels and promotes business recovery plans. The major role of the DR Team is to direct and monitor recovery efforts.

Major Responsibilities

  1. Identifying potential damage caused by the disaster and initiating disaster recovery schemes
  2. Monitoring DR operations and liaising with management and other recovery teams
  3. Submitting DR operations reports and progress to senior management
  4. Recording and controlling recovery expenditures
  5. Checking and approving audit outcomes for recovered business applications
  6. Declaring an end to the DR process when critical business applications and systems are restored

The Disaster Management Team members include senior level managers like the Vice President of IT and directors from areas such as development, infrastructure, help desk and compliance.

Recovery Coordinators

Recovery coordinators report directly to the Disaster Management Team. They are employed as the focal point for all communications between the Disaster Management Team and other disaster recovery teams.

Major Responsibilities

  1. Coordinating disaster-related notifications
  2. Organizing damage control measures
  3. Correcting problems
  4. Assisting and coordinating recovery efforts by other teams
  5. Maintaining IT disaster recovery master copies, offsite copies and plans

Operations Team

The Operations Team is entirely responsible for recovering assets like data centers and other important computer locations.

Major Responsibilities

  1. Restoring computer operations
  2. Executing data center recovery operations such as computer hardware installation, operating system updates, computer resource availability validation and acquisition arrangement
  3. Establishing data processing schedules and recovering historical and current data from storage vendors
  4. Restoring application execution along with software and database platforms
  5. Coordinating with other user groups regarding non-recoverable data not currently available from recent backups
  6. Supplying needed staffing and management for standby data centers and backup libraries in order to meet user requirements
  7. Working closely with network teams for restoring communication channels
  8. Providing ongoing technical support at standby sites
  9. Ensuring safe storage and reassembly of documents for all operations, applications and critical data at standby sites

Network Team

The Network Team manages all computer communications and networking protocols during a period of outage or disaster.

Major Responsibilities

  1. Creating alternate data and voice communication arrangements with telecom service providers
  2. Ordering network equipment and communication services if needed
  3. Evaluating communication channel damage levels caused by the disaster
  4. Providing alternate arrangements for wide area and local area data communication for key customers
  5. Restoring networks at standby sites and installing new voice networks for critical telephony users
  6. Defining priorities for network restore operations based on critical user areas
  7. Maintaining needed network documentation
  8. Supervising equipment and line installations for new networks
  9. Maintaining ongoing support for standby network facilities
  10. Restoring networks at the main site once all other secondary locations are completely restored

Facilities Team

This team takes charge in resolving general environment issues such as those with electric, gas, water, and building infrastructure outside the data center. The Facilities Team is responsible for the health, security and safety of buildings and their occupants.

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