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A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a business plan that describes how work can be resumed quickly and effectively after a disaster. Disaster recovery planning is just part of business continuity planning and applied to aspects of an organization that rely on an IT infrastructure to function.
The overall idea is to develop a plan that will allow the IT department to recover enough data and system functionality to allow a business or organization to operate - even possibly at a minimal level.
The creation of a DRP begins with a DRP proposal to achieve upper level management support. Then a business impact analysis (BIA) is needed to determine which business functions are the most critical and the requirements to get the IT components of those functions operational again after a disaster, either on-site or off-site.
Every employee must be made aware of the DRP and when implemented, effective communication is essential. The DRP must include a comprehensive off-site data backup and an on/off-site recovery plan.
The biggest issue may be the sourcing of an alternate location with adequate equipment, but there are many places where data center time and bandwidth can be rented so these arrangements could also be included in a DRP. Some companies can operate from just a single server so a backup machine can be kept at a remote location and kept up to date with a regular backup of the essential data required to operate being made. This would suit a small organization, but where there are more computers and a data center involved there needs to be a more extensive plan made.
A DRP may require employees to relocate to a hotsite to resume work, if work cannot be conducted at the normal business site. This hotsite is an off-site location supplied with the computer equipment and data necessary to continue an organization's normal work.
It is imperative that organizations not only develop a DRP but also test it, train personnel and document it properly before a real disaster occurs. This is one reason why off-site hosting of all IT services can be a good choice for the protection they provide; in disaster situations personnel can access data easily from a new location, whereas relocating a terminally damaged data centre and getting it operational again is not an easy job.
Often a specialized disaster recovery planning consultant is hired to assist organizations in attending to the many details that can arise during such contingency planning.