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Disaster Recovery FAQ: Essential Definitions for IT Pros and MSPs

Disaster Recovery FAQ: Essential Definitions for IT Pros and MSPs

Some IT professionals believe that having automated data backups enables them to perform disaster recovery. As many of you know, this is far from the case.

To create a robust disaster recovery plan, you must understand the concepts, terms, and definitions that underlie it. In this FAQ section, we'll go over the main approaches and topics for disaster recovery and give you links to other guides that go into more detail on most of these topics.

Table of Contents

    What Is Disaster Recovery?

    Disaster recovery is the set of procedures, tools, policies, and resources that are collectively intended to revive IT infrastructure and resume critical business functions after a natural or human-triggered disaster - such as a cyberattack, hardware failure, accidental data deletion, etc.

    You can think of it as a subset of business continuity, as it seeks to restore all the vital processes after a service disruption.

    How Is Disaster Recovery Different From a Regular Backup?

    Backup is the process of creating copies of data and storing them in primary and secondary locations. You can back up your files on local drives, NAS devices, off-site data centers, cloud storage, and other means. This allows you to restore your data if you happen to experience data loss.

    Disaster recovery, on the other hand, is a more holistic process that seeks to safeguard your data and IT resources against problems, as well as facilitate quick re-establishment of the core business systems after a major disruption.

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    Hence, we can conclude that backup is just one subcomponent of disaster recovery.

    How to Manage Disaster Recovery?

    Managing disaster recovery entails drafting, implementing, and testing a robust disaster recovery plan, plus its corresponding business continuity plan.

    While you conduct business impact analysis, you should consider the ideal recovery infrastructure - whether on-premise or cloud - as well as the disaster recovery approach - whether multi-site, warm standby, pilot light, or backup and recovery.

    What Is an IT Disaster Recovery Plan?

    An IT disaster recovery plan is a structured document that provides detailed guidance on how to effectively respond to service disruptions caused by natural and human-induced disasters - such as cyberattacks, power outages, and natural calamities.

    The plan itself considers all the core business processes plus the potential disasters that might arise along the way. It then offers strategies for minimizing the impacts of each disaster, as well as utilizing the available secondary resources to quickly and seamlessly restore critical operations.

    What Is the Purpose of a Disaster Recovery Plan?

    A disaster recovery plan seeks to help you respond quickly and effectively to service disruptions. It focuses on minimizing the effect of each potential disaster, and restoring the core business operations.

    What Does a Disaster Recovery Plan include?

    Some of the key elements of an IT disaster recovery plan include

    • allocations of all the responsibilities for disaster responses,
    • a disaster response implementation framework,
    • the process of restoring data from backups to the new systems,
    • and the procedure for reversing the process to resume normal operations.

    How to Prepare a Disaster Recovery Plan?

    To create a disaster recovery plan, you should:

    • Discuss the need for a disaster recovery plan with business leaders
    • Group business processes and data that need to be recovered by criticality
    • Identify possible disaster cases
    • Define disaster recovery goals
    • Define tools and methods that will allow you to recover according to the goals
    • Implement disaster recovery plan and workflow
    • Educate your end-users accordingly

    What Is RTO and RPO in Disaster Recovery?

    To create a disaster recovery plan, you should first estimate the time objectives and the tolerable data loss that the business is going to undertake in the event of a downtime. These objectives are called the recovery time and the recovery point objectives.

    RTO, in full, refers to the Recovery Time Objective. This metric establishes the amount of time that you ought to restore your IT infrastructure and services after a disaster for the sake of business continuity.

    Then RPO, or Recovery Point Objective in full, defines the maximum tolerable amount of data that an organization can withstand losing during a disaster. Additionally, it provides insight into the maximum allowable amount of time between the final data backup instance and a disaster. That means you can use it to determine the appropriate backup schedule and frequency.

    How Does Disaster Recovery Planning Differ From Business Continuity Planning?

    Business continuity planning is used to define all the procedures and protocols needed to keep the business operations running following a disruptive event. So, in short, a business continuity plan seeks to answer the question, “How can we maintain our business processes if a disaster occurs?”

    Disaster recovery planning, on the other hand, deals specifically with the steps and resources required to restore vital IT infrastructure and services following a disaster. That means it answers the question, “How can we resume after a disaster?”

    All in all, though, disaster recovery is one of the key elements of business continuity.

    How to Test a Disaster Recovery Plan?

    You can evaluate the disaster recovery plan through a walkthrough test, a tabletop test, and technical tests.

    The walkthrough test is essentially a step-by-step review of the disaster recovery plan, while the tabletop test runs “what-if” scenarios to determine how each team member would respond. You can then supplement that with technical tests such as parallel tests and live/full-interruption testing.

    Disaster Recovery Concepts for MSPs

    What Is Disaster Recovery as a Service?

    Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS in short, is a managed service in which MSPs create a disaster recovery plan for their customers, back up their data/servers, and then proceed to restore the infrastructure in the event of a disaster.

    The solution focuses on ensuring business continuity in case services are disrupted by natural or human-triggered factors,

    What Is the Difference Between Backup as a Service and Disaster Recovery as a Service?

    Backup as a Service - or BaaS - focuses on backing up and restoring client data, while Disaster Recovery as a Service - or DRaaS - goes beyond data to backup and restore client infrastructure, including all hosted applications, file systems, and current system configurations.

    More specifically, BaaS providers require clients to choose the data they’d like to backup, after which the MSPs proceed to store copies offsite and retrieve the data in case of disruption or data loss.

    DRaaS, on the other hand, entails replicating clients’ servers and system configurations to cloud storage locations as recovery instances. Consequently, providers are expected to respond to disasters by deploying the recovery servers and then providing clients with remote access.

    Why Offer Disaster Recovery as a Service?

    You might want to include Disaster Recovery as a Service in your offering because:

    • It enhances the combined value of your services.
    • It’ll boost customer loyalty, particularly among your IT clients.
    • Clients find it easy to justify the business case for such an investment.
    • Full-service MSPs are increasingly turning advanced backup solutions into table stakes.
    • It’ll act as a new source for recurring revenues and high margin profits.
    • Cloud backup platforms have managed to automate data monitoring and compliance at cheaper costs.

    How to Sell Disaster Recovery as a Service?

    You can sell Disaster Recovery as a Service by:

    • Helping clients understand what it entails.
    • Highlighting its benefits (especially when it comes to ensuring business continuity).
    • Explaining just how much downtime costs businesses.
    • Adopting simple pay-as-you-go pricing plans.


    With all these insights, you can now start developing more solid disaster recovery plans for your clients.

    And while you’re at it, here’s a basic trick that’ll make the whole process much easier and cheaper. Instead of consistently bugging yourself with manual backup procedures, simply adopt a tried and proven automation solution like MSP360 Managed Backup.
    Specially-developed for MSPs and IT departments, MSP360 Managed Backup connects directly with major cloud backup providers and facilitates centralized management of your managed backup and disaster recovery services.

    MSP360 Managed Backup.
    Simple. Reliable.
    Powerful cross-platform backup and disaster recovery that leverages the public cloud to enable a comprehensive data protection strategy.
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