Business Continuity Plan or Disaster Recovery Plan: What Are the Differences and How to Choose?
Within an information system, a disaster can happen quickly. While the risks of business disruption are always getting higher over time (network failure, hacking, natural disaster, or others), business continuity or recovery is crucial for companies.
In fact, to avoid dramatic consequences on the activity, it is necessary to guarantee the high availability of the information systems (IS). However, while IS security is often addressed through a software approach (antivirus, anti-malware, etc.), it must also be considered through a more rigorous and holistic approach, such as a business continuity plan (BCP) or a disaster recovery plan (DRP).
What are the differences? How do you choose the plan that best fits your organization’s needs?
Why make a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) or Disaster Recovery Plan DRP)?
A BCP or a DRP guarantees access to business-critical applications and data, thanks to back-up equipment. It is a redundant system that takes over to allow the activity to carry on or to ensure a quick restart after an interruption. The advantage is that users don’t really feel this transition, which reduces the risk of suffering the negative consequences of a system shutdown.
What are the consequences?
The interruption of a company’s information system can lead to:
- A net loss of turnover (the activity can no longer be completed);
- A degradation of branding (due to user dissatisfaction);
- A legal impact (if the incident prevents the organization from fulfilling its contractual obligations);
- And/or negative feedback from employees, customers, and partners.
The point of a business continuity plan or a disaster recovery plan lies in disasters prevention. As such, BCPs and DRPs can be compared to home insurance: Coverage that may not seem useful 99% of the time but becomes critical when a problem occurs. What kind of protection do these solutions offer?
What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
The business continuity plan (BCP) is a comprehensive policy for managing potential threats, which assesses the potential impacts an organization may experience if these threats materialize and ensures business continuity.
The BCP therefore provides the framework in which the company will build its resilience policy by giving itself the means to respond effectively to the threats that weigh on it, while preserving its own interests and those of its stakeholders.
Each company defines the risks it faces, and what it can do to protect itself. For an organization that needs its information to be always available, the business continuity plan’s objective is to ensure that essential applications will remain available even in the event of a disaster, without experiencing an operational disruption, and without suspending their services.
At the heart of the BCP is the design of the information system architecture. These are:
- Set up redundant equipment (network, servers, data storage systems) that can take over in the event of a critical component failure, at several different locations;
- Continuously update data on the primary and secondary network;
- Ensure the availability of material and organizational resources throughout the value chain (staff, premises, workstations, communication tools, etc.);
- Determine which applications and data are essential to maintaining business and prioritize needs.
Note that a global BCP can regroup several disaster recovery plans (DRP) adapted to the needs of the company: A DRP dedicated to the Information System, another related to the financial department, etc.
What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)?
The Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) allows for a quick resumption or restart of the activity in the event of an interruption, depending on the tempo set by the teams. Unlike the BCP, which is used to prevent activity shutdown, the DRP is used to manage the risks. For example, if the IS is not available, the disaster recovery plan describes all the procedures that need to be followed to restart the system as quickly as possible and restore it to the state it was in before the event.
The DRP procedures are intended to limit the negative effects of the incident on the organization’s business. This requires providing a system for backing up and restoring data from a backup site (ideally physically somewhere else), but also knowing the criticality of the system’s various elements to select a relevant restart sequence and set acceptable deadlines. In addition, it is possible to provide a “healthy” copy of the data to avoid full or partial encryption to allow for a clean restoration in case of any ransomware.
Finally, it is essential to determine the causes and rules for triggering a recovery plan via a pre-established committee which, in the event of an incident, will be able to take the appropriate decisions based on the information they have, and really test the DRP once or twice a year.
BCP or DRP: How to Choose?
Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing between a BCP and a DRP:
- Can your organization afford an interruption, even brief, of its business? (For example, for a hospital, a disruption of the computer network can be disastrous, in which case it is necessary to have a BCP.) As such, there are two timing indicators to consider: the Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which is the maximum amount of time that can be supported for restarting the activity, and the Recovery Point Objective (RPO), which is the maximum amount of data that the company can accept to lose (or not be able to update).
- What is your budget? To calculate it, it is important to evaluate the economic impact of a complete shutdown of your information system for a given timeframe. And keep in mind that for a BCP or DRP to be relevant, it must be tested and updated regularly, which adds to the initial cost.
- What critical applications and data need to be backed up or future-proofed?
In addition, you must consider problems associated with a possible outsourcing of the backup outside of your infrastructure to prevent data loss in the event of a disaster affecting your buildings, i.e., fire, flood, earthquake, etc.
Finally, note that a BCP/DRP needs to be prepared well in advance, with a margin that depends on the size of the infrastructure and the elements to be identified. Allow it generally at least three months.
Whatever your need is, Iguana Solutions can support you on the technical aspect of implementing your business continuity or recovery plan, starting from your risk analysis, and adapted to your challenges and your constraints.
Keep in mind that no BCP/DRP is like any other, each one must be built specifically to address your business issues.
You would like to know more?