Why Backup is NOT a DR or BC Plan

Jul 27, 2020

Over the years I’ve sat in many a meeting where the statement “ah we have backups so we don’t need a DR plan” is made, and this misconception is often conceived through lack of understanding and quantifying where DR and BC plans fit in the greater scheme of things. Being prepared is essential as failing to plan is planning to fail!

In this blog post, I will discuss the difference between simply having a backup and having a “Disaster Recovery Plan” (DRP) or a “Business Continuity Plan” (BCP) and shed some light on how services that vBridge have can assist in bringing these plans to fruition. But let’s start by agreeing on some terminology.

What is a backup?

My esteemed colleague and KING of backups, in particular those based on rock solid Veeam technology, Dean Foley put together a really good post on this over here https://blog.vbridge.co.nz/the-3-2-1-backup-rule/

A Backup solution generally only consists of one or more stored copies of important data, the technological requirements are relatively simple:

  • A data transfer method (backup software and internet/network connectivity)
  • A location to store the additional copies (e.g. Tape, Disk, Cloud, Hybrid-Cloud)

What does “Disaster Recovery” mean?

We often hear “Disaster Recovery” (DR) used in close proximity to the term “backup”, however, they are not the same thing.

The term “Disaster Recovery” refers to a plan or process that an organization can use to resume operation after a disaster event has caused a major disruption. While having a good backup system in place is a critical component of a good DR plan, it is only one piece of the larger puzzle.

A Disaster Recovery plan, which forms part of a the wider BC plan should be formulated through the results of a BIA (business impact analysis) which identifies and assesses the effects of unexpected events, both man-made and natural. A good DR plan requires a “Master Plan” or “Plan of Action” document outlining the exact steps to be followed by all relevant personnel in the event of a disaster. This document will contain meticulously detailed information about the environment and will outline the steps that will be taken to bring all systems back online after a disaster. Items like the name and function of each server, the order in which the workloads and data should be recovered, a list of important phone numbers (the Disaster Recovery team members, critical staff), and additional information that will likely be lost or impossible to locate if the building were to be destroyed or otherwise inaccessible.

What does “Business Continuity” mean?

The term “Business Continuity” (BC) (or business continuity and resiliency planning) is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company. In addition to prevention, the goal is to enable ongoing operations during the execution of disaster recovery. An organization's resistance to failure is "the ability to withstand changes in its environment and still function". Often called resilience, it is a capability that enables organizations to either endure environmental changes without having to permanently adapt, or the organization is forced to adapt a new way of working that better suits the new environmental conditions.

How to know which type of plan suits the business needs?

While there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to this question, there are a couple of basic questions you can ask yourself to help determine what type of plan best fits the business needs and budget:

  • In the event of a disaster, how much data could the business lose and still be able to continue providing services to clients?
  • What is the financial impact on the business if the technology systems were down for 1 hour, 4 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours?

By answering these two questions, a business can establish its Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) more recently referred to as RTPO. The RPO is simply the farthest point in history at which the business is comfortable being after a recovery (i.e. if you back-up data at 7 PM each night and then experienced a system failure at 3 PM the next day, the most recent recovery point would be the backup from 7 PM the previous day). The RTO is the amount of time at which the business is comfortable waiting for systems to be recovered. Having a backup from the night before is great if you have somewhere to restore that data. If the building burns down or is damaged in a flood and all existing technology resources are lost as a result, the business may be days or weeks before it can acquire replacement hardware.

After the business has determined the RPO and RTO, work can begin to determine what type of data protection plan best suits the organization’s needs. The smaller the number determined, the closer the business is to needing a true Business Continuity solution.

As I alluded at the beginning of this post, here at vBridge we have a number of services that can tie in with your backup and Disaster Recovery plans.

Cloud Connect:

  • An offsite cloud based copy of your backup data.
  • We have the ability to restore Cloud Connect backups onto our IaaS platform (a functional recovery location) should a significant event happen, hindering the ability to recover to on premise infrastructure.

IaaS Platform:

  • If you have virtual servers hosted on our IaaS platform we include the option to have disk only or disk and tape based backups that are held at an auxiliary location. We also have the ability to replicate your virtual servers to our secondary IaaS hosting facility.
  • We also support vm replication from your on-premise infrastructure to either one of our geographically separated IaaS hosting facilities. These servers can be failed over and brought up in the event of an on premise disaster.

As you can see, there are many ways to protect your business against loss of productivity due to disaster. While there is no way to predict when disaster will strike, having a quality solution in place that fits your organization’s needs and budget can mean the difference between being a success and being a statistic, and at vBridge we strive to ensure success for our customers through our “can do” philosophy.

Rob Green

Rob originates from SA and delivers a great double-billing in Technical Presales and Technical Delivery.