Create a Disaster Recovery Plan

Content Developer

Likely, you have heard the term Cloud First—considering the cloud before any other solution—when considering how to optimize your IT spend. But what does one do before considering Cloud First?

Start by planning for the worst: with a Disaster Recovery Plan.

Schools and districts should create a disaster recovery plan that can address any type of disaster. The plan should be easy to follow and understand, and be customized to meet the unique needs of your school. A disaster recovery plan should include:

  1. Create a disaster recovery team. The team will be responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining the DRP. The DRP should also identify who should be contacted in the event of a disaster or emergency.
  2. Identify and assess disaster risks. This step should include items related to natural disasters, man-made emergencies, and technology related incidents. This will assist the team in identifying the recovery strategies and resources required to recover from disasters within a predetermined and acceptable timeframe.
  3. Determine critical applications, documents, and resources. The organization must evaluate its processes to determine which are critical to the operations of the school or district.
  4. Specify backup and off-site storage procedures. These procedures should identify what to back up, by whom, how to perform the backup, location of backup and how frequently backups should occur. All critical applications, equipment, and documents should be backed up.
  5. Test and maintain the DRP. Disaster recovery planning is a continual process as risks of disasters and emergencies are always changing. The recovery team should regularly update the DRP to accommodate for changes in processes, technology, and evolving disaster risks.

Steps for an Effective Cloud-Based DR Plan

  1. Perform a risk assessment and business impact analysis.
  2. Choose prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery measures.
  3. Test and update your cloud-based DR plan.

Essential Disaster Recovery Terms

  • Recovery time objective (RTO) is the amount of time it takes to recover normal operations after an outage.
  • Recovery point objective (RPO) refers to the amount of data you can afford to lose in a disaster.
  • Failover is the disaster recovery process of automatically offloading tasks to backup systems in a way that is seamless to users.
  • Failback is the disaster recovery process of switching back to the original systems.
  • Restore is the process of transferring backup data to your primary system or data center.
  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a managed approach to disaster recovery, where a third party hosts and manages the infrastructure used for disaster recovery.

The next step in designing a disaster recovery plan is to evaluate deployment options. Do you need to keep some disaster recovery functions or backup data on premises? Would you benefit from a public cloud or hybrid cloud approach? Disaster recovery plans should include details such as contact information for key district personnel and relevant tips for recovering crucial data. Involve stakeholders from your district in the planning, from school board members and faculty to other administrators. Ideally, they should serve in different roles and have broad perspectives about what needs to be protected and how.

Test and Update the Plan

Creating, testing, and updating a DR plan can prepare your school for an unexpected disaster and ensure safety and continuity for students, educators, and staff. District leaders need to understand that disaster recovery plans are not static. They should be updated regularly and tested often. After a test run, you can decide what your DR plan lacks and how it should be updated in order to keep school operations humming and eliminate any snags and obstacles.

By taking into account your infrastructure, potential threats and vulnerabilities, most critical assets and order of their recovery, establishing a recovery plan and investing in a recovery solution can help districts bounce back after data disasters.

Related toolkits

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