Offsite data backup is essential for modern businesses.

Understanding the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity

Stephen Perkins

Anything can go wrong for a business at any given time. From unexpected outages to operator error, there are any number of scenarios that can – and will – occur over a long enough period. This has led many organizations to develop strategies that will help mitigate the loss of critical systems.

But there is a major difference between circumventing a problem and correcting it. This is where there is some confusion. According to TechTarget contributor Clive Longbottom, business continuity plans are incredibly important, but they are not true disaster recovery strategies. The company must be prepared to make due, but it must also be ready to get essential circuits back online.

Disaster recovery should not be confused with business continuity. Just because an organization is able to go without certain operations within brief timeframes does not mean that they should try to do so for extended periods. 

When business continuity falls short
According to Longbottom, measuring the costs against the risk profile of an organization determines how far BC can be taken before it becomes too expensive. But where business continuity ends, data recovery begins.

"A disaster recovery plan's aim is to get the organization's IT resources back up and working after processes stop," Longbottom said. "The DR policy is essentially a safety net for when the BC policy fails; DR resuscitates workloads. Both BC and DR are critical for organizations, complementing and feeding back to each other."

Moving offsite
Because IT departments have so much on their plates already, many companies are realizing that their disaster recovery initiatives are better supported by third-party services. Because security and DR are the sole focuses of these operations, it assures that there will be a higher level of attention paid to keeping up with data protection.

But that does not mean that the business itself is off the hook in terms of protecting information. According to TechWorld contributor Cindy LaChappelle, "alignment and regular testing" on the part of the company is essential making sure strategies stay effective.

"Disaster recovery solutions require alignment to business risk and regular testing neither of which have typically been priorities in backup solutions,"  she said, citing events like 9/11 and the Japan tsunamis as big wake-up calls for enterprises that were dragging their heels.

Long-term retention is the ultimate goal of these initiatives, and without involvement from all parties in question, it is in jeopardy of not occurring.

Categories: Data Management, Data Protection, Disaster Recovery, Online Backup