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Disaster Recovery – “DR”

The term “Disaster Recovery” refers to a set of plans, procedures and facilities which can take over and re-instate operational computer systems, within a designated period of time, in the event of a major failure of the systems that would otherwise be operating under normal circumstances.

Some typical examples of disasters affecting IT systems would be:

  • System failure due to the ingress of water as a result of storm damage, therefore damaging computer systems;
  • Damage affecting the geographic region in which IT systems are based due to weather or other environmental factors or major communication or power outages;
  • A major security breach (e.g. hacking, denial of service or data hi-jacking) affecting the ability of computer systems to operate, e.g. damaging data or making such items inoperable.

In the Information Technology industry the term Disaster Recovery is often shortened to “DR”.

The basis of a DR plan is to have alternative systems available which can take over in an emergency, and that these alternative systems are designed so that they are not subject to the same “Achilles heel” risk factors that affect the usual operating systems.

Examples of methods to avoid common risks would be to locate standby systems at a significant distance where it is considered to be highly unlikely that both locations would be affected by the same risk factors.

Therefore, if your main computer systems are located on a Melbourne-based cloud hosted system, you may decide to have a standby system operating on another cloud-hosted system based in Sydney.

Key elements of your DR strategy would include:

  • Recovery Time / Re-instatement Time window – how long can you afford for your systems to be off-air before your business will be seriously damaged. For example, if you decide the maximum off-air time permissible is 24 hours then you will need to have standby equipment and systems in place and subject to regular “fire drills” to provide that they are able to take over within the specified time window;
  • Recovery Goal – what systems are essential, relative to the time window. For example, if your business is reliant on Point of Sale or e-commerce system you may require it to be re-instated very quickly, whereas you may be able to tolerate your back-office systems being off-air for a longer time.

Prevention is better than cure

In many cases, disasters can be avoided by following Managed IT Services principles, including pro-active support.  The majority of IT disasters can be avoided with careful planning.  For example, if your company is affected by a data-hijacking scam, you will need to be sure you can quickly re-instate your system to full functionality using backups that are guaranteed to contain all the information you need, including the ability to roll back to son, father, grandfather levels to overcome any insidious progressive data corruptions that may have affected some of your backups.  Having an effective Managed IT Services strategy will often be the difference between a minor inconvenience and an expensive major disaster.

The elements of DR planning will vary greatly from one organisation to another.   We recommend you discuss your Disaster Recovery requirements with your Communicat Client Advisers.

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