Definition

disaster recovery plan (DRP)

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) - sometimes referred to as a business continuity plan (BCP) or business process contingency plan (BPCP) - describes how an organization is to deal with potential disasters. Just as a disaster is an event that makes the continuation of normal functions impossible, a disaster recovery plan consists of the precautions taken so that the effects of a disaster will be minimized and the organization will be able to either maintain or quickly resume mission-critical functions. Typically, disaster recovery planning involves an analysis of business processes and continuity needs; it may also include a significant focus on disaster prevention.

Disaster recovery is becoming an increasingly important aspect of enterprise computing. As devices, systems, and networks become ever more complex, there are simply more things that can go wrong. As a consequence, recovery plans have also become more complex. According to Jon William Toigo (the author of Disaster Recovery Planning). For example, fifteen or twenty years ago if there was a threat to systems from a fire, a disaster recovery plan might consist of powering down the mainframe and other computers before the sprinkler system came on, disassembling components, and subsequently drying circuit boards in the parking lot with a hair dryer. Current enterprise systems tend to be too large and complicated for such simple and hands-on approaches, however, and interruption of service or loss of data can have serious financial impact, whether directly or through loss of customer confidence.

Appropriate plans vary from one enterprise to another, depending on variables such as the type of business, the processes involved, and the level of security needed. Disaster recovery planning may be developed within an organization or purchased as a software application or a service. It is not unusual for an enterprise to spend 25% of its information technology budget on disaster recovery.

Nevertheless, the consensus within the DR industry is that most enterprises are still ill-prepared for a disaster. According to the Disaster Recovery site, "Despite the number of very public disasters since 9/11, still only about 50 percent of companies report having a disaster recovery plan. Of those that do, nearly half have never tested their plan, which is tantamount to not having one at all."

See also: business continuance; business impact analysis; recovery time objective; recovery point objective

This was last updated in December 2009
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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