In a disaster, few people care about the definition of terms, but one sure way to get through the chaos of losing data and facilities is to know the difference between recovery and continuity.
Disasters in IT range from minor to major: the minor loss of an important set of data to the major loss of an entire datacenter. Data recovery of the corporate database, though, may take the same herculean effort as the reconstruction of the company’s infrastructure. From the point-of-view of panic, pain and pressures, the range in size of a disaster could arguably be very similar.
Regarding business operations and management of the staff and facilities, continuity represents a much larger scope of maintenance than the recovery of just the data and equipment. Most corporations we have worked with on disaster recovery planning come from a practical analysis of how long recovery will take. Along that, planning process for recovery reality sets in. Time factors to get back in operation count heavily toward what must get recovered first. The matter of time to recovery introduces these business continuity questions:
- What do we need recovered first to stay in business?
- What do our customers need to remain assured of our stability?
- What do our business partners require to continue order, fulfillment and delivery?
- What do our vendor relationships insist upon to work with us?
Prioritization of what to recover first points to the more important analysis of these business relationships and how they line up. Every corporate entity lives with different ordering lists that determine their ability to remain in business.
Recovery of data may well be the only issue that the bulk of IT managers and C-level officers have time to address. It’s a good start, but not the whole story. Know the “what” and “how” in order to get your data back in operation. During that recovery planning, these same managers and officers will run into the continuity questions. The better the recovery system in terms of reliability, scope and scalability, the better the chance at stepping up to the continuity issues. The more feeble and antiquated your recovery planning, the more certain corporate failure at continuing business as usual in a disaster.