What is the DRP response plan?

What is a DRP (disaster recovery plan)?

A DRP, or disaster recovery plan, is a documented process to recover IT infrastructure and systems after a disaster or disruption occurs. The purpose of a DRP is to allow an organization to respond quickly and resume critical operations during an emergency situation that negatively impacts business continuity.

A comprehensive DRP outlines the procedures and resources needed to restore critical systems, applications, data, facilities, and other assets within a defined recovery time objective (RTO). It contains strategies for disaster prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery. Key elements of a DRP typically include:

  • Emergency response procedures
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Communication plans
  • Data and system recovery strategies
  • Testing and exercise drills
  • Plan maintenance schedule

The goal of a DRP is to minimize downtime and data loss in the event of system outages, natural disasters, cyber attacks, or other crises. It provides a roadmap for resilient business operations.

Business impact analysis

A business impact analysis (BIA) is a critical step in developing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. The BIA involves assessing potential risks, prioritizing systems and operations, and estimating maximum downtime the business can endure if a disruption occurs.

The BIA identifies the company’s most critical systems and services and the resources needed to recover them if a disaster strikes. This involves evaluating potential risks and threats, such as natural disasters, cyber attacks, or equipment failures. The analysis ranks each system and process according to priority levels for recovery, based on financial, operational and reputational impacts.

Another key component is determining the maximum tolerable downtime (MTD) for mission-critical systems. This helps establish recovery time objectives (RTOs) for restoring systems and data within a designated time frame. The BIA provides vital information to design recovery strategies that meet the company’s risk tolerance and keep disruption to business activities within acceptable levels.

Conducting a thorough BIA provides the foundation for developing a robust disaster recovery plan that protects the organization’s most vital assets and capabilities. It is an essential step in business continuity planning.


Risk and BIA Analysis Final – Edited

Recovery strategies

A key component of any disaster recovery plan is implementing strategies to restore IT operations and data after a disruption. Some common recovery strategies include:

Backup and restore – Regularly backing up critical data, systems, and applications is crucial for being able to restore them after an outage. This should involve both onsite and offsite/cloud backups. Restoring from backups after an incident enables a quicker recovery time.

Redundant infrastructure – Having redundant IT infrastructure, such as duplicate servers, storage devices, network equipment etc. in place allows seamless failover in case of component failure. This provides high availability and minimizes downtime.

Alternative sites – Organizations can establish alternate processing sites or disaster recovery facilities to shift operations to in the event the primary location is inaccessible. These can be owned or contracted facilities with backups and IT infrastructure.

Implementing the right recovery strategies is key to an effective DRP. Businesses should assess their risk tolerance, recovery time objectives, and budget to determine the best disaster recovery solutions for their needs.

Emergency procedures

Effective emergency procedures are a critical part of any disaster recovery plan. They provide guidance on how to respond in the initial stages of a disaster to help protect human life, minimize damage, and facilitate recovery efforts.

According to Ready.gov, key elements of emergency procedures within a DRP should include:

  • Emergency response teams – Designate roles and responsibilities for staff who will lead response efforts. Define procedures to quickly notify and mobilize response teams.
  • Communications plan – Establish communication protocols to connect with staff, stakeholders, authorities, media, and the public during and after an emergency. Designate alternative communication channels in case primary channels fail.
  • Evacuation procedures – Outline building evacuation procedures including exit routes and assembly areas. Prioritize safety of human life over other concerns.

Regular training, awareness and drills can help ensure all involved understand their roles if emergency procedures must be enacted. Procedures should be documented clearly and accessible to maximize smooth execution during high stress emergency scenarios.

Testing the DRP

Regular testing is crucially important to ensure an effective DRP. According to Disaster Recovery Testing: Best Practices and Scenarios, you should “Perform disaster recovery testing frequently. Create a schedule for testing.”

There are various types of DR tests:

  • Walkthrough/tabletop exercise – simulate a disaster scenario and verbalize response
  • Simulations – replicate the disaster without affecting production systems
  • Parallel testing – use parallel hardware to process transactions
  • Full interruption testing – disrupt systems and activate DR site

According to Best Practices For Disaster Recovery Testing, you should “Test regularly” such as monthly, quarterly or annually. The frequency depends on criticality of systems and recovery time objectives.

Maintaining the Plan

A key aspect of an effective DRP is keeping it updated regularly. The plan should be reviewed at least annually and also whenever significant changes occur to business processes, technology, facilities, key personnel or external suppliers/partners (Maintenance and Training Requirement for DRP Essay Example). This ensures the plan reflects the current state of the business and recovery strategies.

Maintenance activities should include (fxt2 1 – 1. DRP/ECP Roles 2. Resilience Layers 3….):

  • Reviewing and updating DRP documents
  • Re-assigning personnel responsibilities
  • Scheduling backup of critical data
  • Maintaining equipment and system status reports
  • Reviewing security systems and emergency procedures

Regular maintenance helps validate that the DRP remains achievable and effective. It also ensures personnel are familiar with their roles and responsibilities when disaster strikes.

DRP templates and solutions

When creating a disaster recovery plan, many organizations use pre-made templates or solutions to help guide them through the process. These provide an established framework and checklist of key elements that should be included in an effective DRP.

There are a variety of vendors that offer DRP templates, ranging from free downloadable Word docs to paid, sophisticated business continuity software. Some examples include:

The main benefit of using an established template is that it guides you through the DRP process in a logical manner, ensuring you cover all necessary elements. Templates prompt you to fill in critical information like priority systems, emergency procedures, backup details, etc. They also provide sample language, diagrams and flowcharts.

However, each organization has unique needs, so while templates are a helpful starting point, the DRP will likely require customization and additional development specific to your business.

Creating a DRP

Creating an effective disaster recovery plan involves several key steps:

  1. Perform a business impact analysis to identify critical systems, processes, and data that need to be recovered quickly in a disaster scenario. This helps prioritize recovery efforts.

  2. Define disaster scenarios that could realistically impact your business, such as hardware failure, cyber attacks, severe weather, etc. Analyze the potential impact of these scenarios.

  3. Determine recovery strategies for each critical system/process. Common strategies include Failover Clustering, Cold/Warm/Hot Sites, and Backup Restores.

  4. Develop detailed recovery procedures for responding to a disaster, including emergency notifications, staff responsibilities, communications, assessing damage, activating backup systems, restoring data, etc.

  5. Get leadership buy-in and sign-off on the plan. Having executive sponsorship helps ensure adequate resources for maintenance.

  6. Implement employee training on disaster response procedures. Conduct awareness exercises and drills.

  7. Regularly test and update the plan to account for new systems, changes in business operations, personnel changes, etc. Testing verifies effectiveness.

Following structured steps for developing a disaster recovery plan helps create a robust framework to minimize downtime and data loss in the event of a disruption (slideteam.net). Getting leadership support and keeping the plan current are key for success.

Cloud-based disaster recovery

Cloud-based disaster recovery leverages cloud computing and storage to maintain copies of data and applications in an offsite cloud provider. This approach provides several benefits over traditional on-premises disaster recovery:

  • Lower costs – Cloud DR eliminates the need to purchase and maintain a separate physical disaster recovery site and infrastructure.
  • Increased agility – Cloud resources can be spun up or down as needed for DR testing and failover situations.
  • Automatic backups – Cloud providers take care of ongoing backups and data replication.
  • Faster recovery – Failover to cloud resources can be faster as no physical recovery site needs to be maintained.

Popular disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solutions include AWS CloudEndure, Microsoft Azure Site Recovery and IBM Resiliency Services. DRaaS streamlines disaster recovery by providing turnkey solutions rather than needing to build custom DR infrastructure.

Best practices

There are several key best practices that can help ensure a successful disaster recovery plan (DRP):

Focus on business continuity – The main goal of a DRP should be restoring critical business operations as quickly as possible after a disruption. Identify your most critical systems and data and prioritize recovering those first. SAN Volume Controller with DRP Best Practices

Regular testing and updates – Test your DRP regularly, at least annually, to validate that recovery strategies work. Also update the plan as IT infrastructure and business operations change. Testing helps identify gaps and keeps the plan current. 10 Best Practices for Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP)

Automation – Maximize the level of automation in the DRP to accelerate recovery times. Automated scripts can quickly restore systems from backups versus manual processes. Automation also minimizes human error during stressful recovery scenarios. 5 Disaster Recovery Policy (DRP) Best Practices to Know

Avoid common pitfalls like inadequate redundancy, lack of offsite backups, incomplete documentation of recovery procedures, or poor communication. An untested DRP with gaps and outdated information will not be effective when needed.