The Disaster Recovery Lingo You Need to Know

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Technology in general is often a big old bowl of alphabet soup. You got RTOs, SLAs, APIs, DHCPs, VPNs, FTPs, HTTPs, and LMNOPs (I only made one of those up.) With all of the terms and acronyms abound in the high tech world, planning and comprehension can get tricky, especially when it comes to the abundance of disaster recovery lingo that exists.

When putting together your DR (Disaster Recovery) plan, which is part of your greater BCP (Business Continuity Plan), you need to have clearly defined RTOs (Recovery Time Objective) and RPOs (Recovery Point Objective), while also making sure you have an AWS (Alternate Workspace) if required…see what I mean? Below is an overview of several key terms that will help you gain a better understanding of disaster recovery lingo.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO): The recovery point objective is the amount of data loss that is tolerable if a disaster recovery event is called. In other words, the RPO measures the maximum time period in which recent data can be permanently lost. For example, if the RPO is set to 4 hours, a company would only expect to lose 4 hours or less of data in the event of a critical incident. When designing the Disaster Recovery plan, the RPO must be taken in account, as a recent data backup would have to exist within that time frame.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO): In Disaster Recovery planning, RTO is the amount of time a business process must be restored after a disruption. RTO begins when a disaster hits and does not end until all systems are up and running. Determining RTO is an important part of creating a Business Continuity plan since anything beyond this time could result in unacceptable consequences.

Business Continuity Plan (BCP): A Business Continuity Plan is an important part of a business’s operation plan that covers how a business will remain operational in the event of a major disaster or event. A BCP details the steps taken before, during, and after a critical event that are required to maintain business function from an operational and financial standpoint.

High Availability (HA): High availability refers to a system or component that is continuously operational for a long length of time. HA is often confused with Disaster Recovery, as executives may think that having highly available systems should prevent any downtime or disruption what-so-ever, which is not the case. HA deals will day-to-day operations, while Disaster Recovery deals with critical incidents or failures that knock systems out for an extended length of time.

Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS): UPS is an electrical battery backup that can provide backup power for a limited amount of time. A UPS is a short-term fix, and proper backup power must be provided through a diesel or natural gas generator.

Business Impact Analysis (BIA): A BIA is the process of collecting information to determine proper recovery strategies. The BIA can help you determine you RTOs and RPOs.

Mission-critical: Mission-critical refers to your systems or applications that are essential to your business and is a super common term when it comes to disaster recovery lingo. This can include ERP systems, email, and other business applications that are needed.

Secondary Site (or DR Site): A secondary location for your critical information and applications. This is typically another Data Centre that is in a separate geographic location from the primary data location.

In general, understanding the basics of Disaster Recovery is critical for everyone at your organization, since this knowledge can determine if your business is able to survive a disastrous event.

Want to learn more about Disaster Recovery planning? Check out our handy DR eBook!

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