The Language of DR Planning

April 19, 2022
Disaster Recovery

Updated: 2/24/2023

The Language of DR Planning

Most if not all of us know the language associated with disasters involving IT systems. It typically involves a lot of words that express fear, frustration, anger and other emotions ─ and really aren’t appropriate for covering in a blog post. Disaster recovery (DR) planning is a different matter.

The terminology associated with DR planning is comprised of words and phrases that describe the actions, policies, tools, procedures, and DR plan components that enable the recovery or continuation of IT infrastructure and systems following a natural or manmade disaster. While DR-related language is usually second nature to those in the DR business or on the DR side of IT, it’s not as familiar to those who approve the budgets and resources for DR planning or set the priorities for it.

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Why Words Matter

Building and selling the business case for DR plans requires more than citing statistics or discussing the consequences of not having a DR plan in place. Solutions and options must be referenced, as well as many of the technical aspects for how they work. It’s hard to win support for DR if the people whose support you want if don’t understand what you’re talking about.

The same holds true when it comes to implementing and executing a DR plan. It’s critical for people across the organization to understand what the terminology means so they can do their part if an incident occurs ─ and to understand the ramifications if they don’t.

There’s also a tendency for IT professionals to use jargon, as well as acronyms and initialisms, which are like acronyms but they are pronounced by the individual letters rather than as a word. If you’re talking to the C-suite, a vendor or a new hire about a BIA or the need for a specific RTO or RPO, you want to help make sure they understand what you’re referencing.

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A DR Glossary Starter

Developing a DR glossary is an easy thing to do, and can serve multiple purposes. For example, it can be used as an addendum with DR business case documents and DR plans, or as a reference when developing employee training. There are several good online sources to help you get started. You can also use the following as a starting point.

Backup is a component of data protection and refers to the process of periodically saving data in a secure on - or off-site location and bringing it back when it is needed.

Replication refers to copying data from one location to another either immediately or with a short time delay. It’s similar to back up in that both create a secondary copy of data. The difference is that with replication, any data corruption or user file deletion is immediately or very quickly replicated to the secondary copy. That makes it ineffective for backup.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the point in time to which a firm must recover data as defined by the organization. The RPO dictates which replication method will be required.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the duration of time and service level within which a business process must be restored after a disruption in order to avoid unacceptable losses. RTO begins when a disaster hits and does not end until all systems are up and running.

Business Continuity (BC) refers the processes and procedures that ensure a business can continue operations during and after a disruptive event such as power loss due to inclement weather.

Disaster Recovery (DR) is the process for replicating your entire IT environment, including data, and then making it available after a disruptive event when your primary environment is unavailable.

Data Protection is the process of safeguarding data from corruption and/or loss. It includes both the operational backup of data and business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR).

Business Impact Analysis (BIA) refers to a procedure for collecting information on a wide range of areas from recovery assumptions and critical business processes to interdependencies and critical staff that is then analyzed to assess the impact a disruptive event may have.

High availability (HA) describes a system’s ability to continue processing and functioning for a certain period of time, normally a very high percentage of time such as 99.999%. High availability can be implemented into a firm's IT infrastructure by reducing any single points of failure using redundant components.

Production or primary site refers to the site containing original data that can’t be recreated.

Secondary site or DR site is the site that contains information and applications that are built from the primary repository information. This site is activated should the primary site become unavailable.

Redundancy refers to using multiple sources, devices or connections so that no single point of failure will completely stop the flow of information.

Failover refers to switching from your production to your recovery site

Failback refers to the process of returning to your production site from the recovery site.

Continuous data protection (CDP) is real-time replication of data as it is being written to disk. Each time a change is made, it is copied to a separate disk when that change is made. With CDP, you can achieve minimal RPO and ensure the data at your recovery site is as up to date as possible with your production site.

Near Continuous data protection (CDP) is like CPD but uses snapshots to recover to a certain point in time. Near CDP has specific points of recovery that are much more frequent than traditional backup, but you don’t have the ability to return to any point in time you wish as with true CDP.

Snapshots provide a quick “picture” of a server (including its files, software and settings) at a particular point in time. Generally, snapshots are instant, and preserve a point in time state without having to move or copy existing data at all.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a DR solution in which the infrastructure, personnel, testing and other associated costs and equipment is outsourced to a third-party provider.

Mirroring refers to data being copied exactly from one site to another. Mirroring is done in real time, and can be done at an offsite facility, or onsite. If done offsite, mirroring is a handy disaster recovery tool that allows an organization to quickly recover the most up-to-date version of their data from a completely different location.

Let’s Talk About DR

Whether you need a DR plan or DR solution, would like assistance in reviewing what you have, or have other IT-related needs, contact US Signal. Call (866) 274-4625 or email [email protected]. You can also take advantage of US Signal’s 12-Point DR Planning To-Do List.

Additional Disaster Recovery Resources

To learn more about disaster recovery and managed DR services, check out these articles below from our blog or visit our resource center for whitepapers, e-books and more!