Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity? It's All About Preparedness

8/13/15 11:08 AM iCorps Technologies

Disaster-recovery-business-continuity-web“There’s nothing wrong with crab grass,” states Homer Simpson in one episode of television’s The Simpsons. “It just has a bad name. Everyone would love it if it had a cute name like ‘elf grass.’”

Disaster recovery can relate to crab grass.

Choose Your Words Carefully

A “hot” term, disaster recovery is wrought with misperceptions which could, in part, explain why 73% of companies today are unprepared for a disaster.1 After all, disasters happen to others, right? What are the odds?

Perhaps by calling it business continuity – which has the “elf grass” effect of being a bit more palatable – you’ll have more luck getting buy-in and implementing an effective plan.

The terms disaster recovery and business continuity often are used interchangeably. Generally, both refer to a predefined strategy for how a company responds to and continues to operate after a disruptive event until normalcy is restored.

A CIO.com article is helpful in clarifying one critical difference: “...a disaster recovery plan focuses mainly on restoring IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. It’s actually just one part of a complete business continuity plan, as a BC plan looks at the continuity of the entire organization.”2

While there are countless articles, blogs, and keynotes that chase additional nuanced differences between the two terms, it really comes down to how well you know your audience.

The key is to translate your IT concerns for maintaining mission-critical business services into terms that your business leaders will relate to, notes Steve Kahan, a founding member of the Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council. This includes pinpointing specific impacts to the business.

“Some audiences are more responsive when the conversation is focused on the crucial role that IT plays in ensuring ‘business continuity,’” he explains. Others, he says, might respond to the operational costs of an extended outage. Still others may think of disaster preparedness as “an investment in brand security.”3

Cause and Effect

Just as these impacts of IT-related disasters are a matter of perspective, so too are the IT-related disasters themselves. A disruptive event can be anything from a power failure to an act of terrorism. A system crash can have a similar devastating impact on a brokerage firm as a fire does on a retail shop.

The causes of outages and data loss, though, may surprise you (and your audience).

According to the DRP Council’s 2014 annual benchmark study,4 weather issues – such as a tornado, flood, hurricane – accounted for just 15% of disasters.

The larger causes, though, were software/network failures (54%) and human error (41%) – the latter of which can range from accidentally issuing the wrong command (read how Pixar’s Toy Story 2 was deleted) or a lack of system maintenance to purposeful, malicious actions by disgruntled employees or cybercriminals.

The Bottom Line

Whether you call it disaster recovery or business continuity, the underlying point is preparedness. Not to be alarmist, but “nothing less than the survival of your company is at stake.”5

Buy-in is critical, so be sure to choose your words carefully. For implementation of your plan, the cloud and virtualization offer viable and cost-effective DR alternatives to consider if you don’t have the skills, space, or equipment onsite. And, as the DRP Council reminds us, disaster preparedness is an ongoing activity that includes the critical step of testing your plan to make sure it actually works – before a disruption occurs.

Learn more about business continuity planning

With more than two decades of experience, the iCorps IT consulting team is dedicated to delivering excellence to our customers by staying ahead of market trends and understanding new technologies that could impact their business. iCorps delivers superior IT outsourcing, IT support and technology solutions implemented by the best consultants in the BostonPhiladelphia and New York (NY) areas.

1[Source: Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council. Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark Survey 2014 Annual Report, http://drbenchmark.org/benchmark-survey/drp-annual-report/ 2014]

2[Source: CIO.com How to Create an Effective Business Continuity Plan, http://www.cio.com/article/2381021/best-practices/how-to-create-an-effective-business-continuity-plan.html Kim Lindros and Ed Tittel, November 14, 2013]

3[Source: Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council. Is our DR Vocabulary a Barrier to Disaster Recovery Preparedness? http://drbenchmark.org/is-our-dr-vocabulary-a-barrier-to-disaster-recovery-preparedness/ Steve Kahan. March 31, 2014]

4[Source: Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council. Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark Survey 2014 Annual Report, http://drbenchmark.org/benchmark-survey/drp-annual-report/ 2014]

5[Source: CIO.com How to Create an Effective Business Continuity Plan, http://www.cio.com/article/2381021/best-practices/how-to-create-an-effective-business-continuity-plan.html Kim Lindros and Ed Tittel, November 14, 2013]