Monday, 18 April 2016

Disaster Recovery v/s Business Continuity Planning for Software Outsourcing Companies in India

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Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are separate but related concepts. In fact, disaster recovery is part of business continuity. Disaster recovery (DR) concerns the recovery of the technical components of your business, such as computers, software, the network, data, and so on. Business continuity planning (BCP) includes disaster recovery along with procedures to restore business operations and the underlying functionality of the business infrastructure needed to support the business of an organization such as a software outsourcing company, along with the resumption of the daily work of the people in your workplace. Business continuity planning is vital to keeping your business running and to providing a return to “business as usual” during a disaster. DR and BCP professionals work together to ensure the recoverability and continuity of all aspects of an organization that are affected by an outage or security event. A disaster is defined generally by DRI International as a “sudden, unplanned calamitous event causing great damage or loss” or “any event that creates an inability on an organization’s part to provide critical business functions for some predetermined period of time.” With this general definition in mind, the disaster recovery planner or business continuity professional would sit down with all the principals in the organization and map out what would constitute a disaster for that organization. This is the initial stage of creating a business impact analysis (BIA), which is an important input into the planning of service reliability and resumption.

When you put together a disaster recovery plan, you need to understand how your organization’s information technology (IT) infrastructure, applications, and network support the business functions of the enterprise you are recovering. The business continuity professional is more concerned with the business functions of an enterprise such as an outsourcing company, that the employees perform than with the underlying technologies. In order to figure out how the business can resume normal operations during a disaster, the business continuity professional needs to work with each business unit as closely as possible. This means they need to meet with the people who make the decisions, the people who carry out the decisions in the management team, and finally the “worker bees” who actually do the work.

There are four main components of business continuity planning, each of which is essential to the whole BCP initiative:

• Plan initiation
• Business impact analysis or assessment
• Development of the recovery strategies
• Rehearsal or exercise of the disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

Each business unit should have its own plan. An organization such as a software outsourcing company in India as a whole needs to have a global plan, encompassing all the business units. There should be two plans that work in tandem: a business continuity plan (recovery of the people and business function) and a disaster recovery plan (technological and application recovery).

Another important element of disaster recovery and business continuity planning is an awareness program. The business continuity or disaster recovery professional can meet with each business unit to hold what are known as “tabletop” exercises. These exercises are important, because they actually get the members of the business unit to sit down and think about a particular event and how to first prevent or mitigate it, and then how to recover from it. The event can be anything from a category 3 hurricane to workplace violence. Any work stoppage can potentially impede the progress of an organization’s recovery or resumption of services, and it is up to the management team to design or develop a plan of action or a business continuity plan. The business continuity or disaster recovery professional must facilitate this process and make the business unit aware that there are events that can bring the business to a grinding halt.

Backups may be used for complete system restoration, but they can also allow you to recover the contents of a mailbox, for example, or an “accidentally” deleted document. Backups can be extended to saving more than just digital data. Backup processes can include the backup of specifications and configurations, policies and procedures, equipment, and data centers. However, if the backup is not good, or is too old, or the backup media is damaged, then it will not fix the problem. Just having a backup procedure in place does not always offer adequate protection.

Traditional Backup Methods:

In the traditional backup process, data is copied to backup media, primarily tape, in a predictable and orderly fashion for secure storage both onsite and offsite. Backup media can thus be made available to restore data to new or repaired systems after failure. In addition to data, modern operating systems and application configurations are also backed up. This provides faster restore capabilities and occasionally may be the only way to restore systems where applications that support data are intimately integrated with a specific system.

Backup Policy

Software outsourcing companies can obtain many benefits from backing up as a regular part of IT operations:

• Cost savings: It takes many people-hours to reproduce digitally stored data. The cost of backup software and hardware is a fraction of this cost.
• Productivity: Users cannot work without data. When data can be restored quickly, productivity is maintained.
• Increased security: When backups are available, the impact of an attack that destroys or corrupts data is lessened. Data can be replaced or compared to ensure its integrity.
• Simplicity: When centralized backups are used, no user needs to make a decision about what to back up.

Summarizing this, many a time’s individuals in the IT world are unclear about the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity planning. This article describes the underlying difference between the two and some precautions that a software outsourcing company must undertake in the planning for the same.

Courtesy - Bhavesh Bulchandani

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