In the field of IT security, you’ll often hear the terms “disaster recovery” and “business continuity” mentioned in the same breath; sometimes interchangeably. While it’s true that both share overlapping features, they are not exactly synonymous.
Fortunately, explaining the business continuity vs. disaster recovery definition is simple. In this article, we will discuss the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery, how they relate to one another, and why both are integral to the success of your IT security.
Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity – What is Considered a Disaster?
Though it seems obvious, it’s important to differentiate the three types of disaster your business may encounter. This helps to further clarify the topic of IT disaster recovery vs. business continuity.
Tech disasters involve abstract components, like networks, applications, and data. Cyber attacks (phishing, ransomware, and malware) fall into this category. Likewise, incidental occurrences (ISP outages, cloud failures, and server failures) do, too.
Natural disasters include things like fires, floods, storms, and even pandemics. For the most part, natural disasters affect physical infrastructure directly; however, in instances like pandemics, it’s the workforce that takes the hit.
Like natural disasters, physical disasters typically impact infrastructure; however, they can be either deliberate or incidental. Examples of the former include a physical security breach or break-in. The latter refers to things like power failures, burst pipes, thermal regulation issues, or a collapsed roof.
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Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery Plan: Why Both Matter for Your Business
A disaster can be caused by any number of things, but the result is the same: your business grinds to a halt, the cost of which can add up quickly.
It is estimated that each hour of downtime costs an average of $9,000, according to a 2016 Ponemon Institute study. While this varies, the true amount is likely higher when you consider the potential cost of hardware damage, lost data, and reputational harm.
Unfortunately, even equipped with the most robust and sophisticated IT security, disasters happen. That’s why planning is essential. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between a business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan.
The Difference Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (DRP vs. BCP) Plans
Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery Plan: What is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
When disaster strikes, a business continuity plan (BCP) outlines the steps needed to secure your critical systems and minimize workflow interruptions. Basically, it’s the minimum viable path to maintaining “business as usual.”
This includes things like establishing a secondary location where employees can continue to work and gaining access to backup servers. Because each business is different, there’s no ready-made BCP. Instead, a BCP must be formulated according to four general steps.
1. Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
First, a risk assessment and business impact analysis (BIA) are conducted. At this initial stage, the goal is to assess the trust cost of a disruption.
2. Recovery Strategies
With assessments done, recovery strategies are developed. These are guidelines that, when followed, restore essential business tasks and processes in the wake of a disruption. Each disruption is unique and thus follows a unique recovery plan.
This stage focuses on the successful implementation of recovery strategies. A designated team is assigned to compile the plan and prepare for various disruptions.
4. Testing and Maintenance
Finally, the testing, acceptance, and maintenance of the BCP is carried out on a regular basis to ensure that the people and processes behave as they should.
Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery: What is a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)?
A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a set of infrastructure restoration strategies employed in the event of a disruption.
These strategies vary depending on the nature of the disaster. Therefore, the first step in restoring full functionality is to identify the cause and casualties of the present disaster.
Once known, strict but realistic deadlines are followed to minimize the cost of downtime and reduce the extent of damages. This is referred to as the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).
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Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: Know the Difference
As we’ve seen in the business continuity vs. disaster recovery debate, both are designed to address unexpected disruptions to normal business functioning. Now that the BCP vs. DRP meaning is understood, we can highlight their primary differences:
- A BCP is a long-term strategy that allows work to continue on the heels of a disruption. The focus is on business operations, prioritizing employees and customers, outcomes and deliverables. A BCP ends once normal functionality is restored.
- A DRP is a short-term solution designed to repair IT assets (hardware, applications, networks, processes, data) as fast as possible. The focus is on the infrastructure that supports your business operations. A DRP ends once all technological issues have been addressed.
Disaster Recovery Plan vs. Business Continuity Plan: How DRP and BCP Relate
From the above definitions, we can see that a DRP is actually a subcategory of your overall BCP. Simply put, a BCP represents your entire disaster protocol blueprint from start to finish.
A DRP, on the other hand, is a particular region of that blueprint, dealing with the immediate mitigation and recovery of IT infrastructure.
Don’t Let Disasters Disrupt Your Business
Your disaster recovery planning vs. business continuity planning doesn’t have to be at odds. In fact, a healthy IT contingency plan makes use of both.
At Technology Advisory Group, we’ve helped businesses across Rhode Island and New England develop and implement successful BCPs and DRPs for over 25 years. Be prepared when disaster strikes. Contact us today for more information.