What Does Disaster Recovery Mean?

It’s strange that when you watch the news each night there seems to be all sorts of disasters affecting various parts of the world: from earthquakes to fires, to floods and volcanic eruptions, to snowstorms and tsunamis; all of these having great impact upon people and corporations.  Yet, what is not often televised is the technology disasters.  If what they news tells us is true, a disaster is more than just an Information Technology breakdown; it’s natural disaster as well.  Let’s face it, a technology disaster is a man-made disaster; Mother Nature didn’t create technology, the Human race did.

            So why then do we continually say that a disaster is a situation that is IT specific?  It’s not.  A disaster is more than just a server breaking down or loosing a connection to another site.  A loss of technology can be a result of a disaster – storms, floods, fires etc – but it doesn’t necessarily have to be technology specific. 

            Now, with the dependency on technology in today’s world, it can be understood that loosing technology can be a disaster for an organization and that to continue operations they must restore and recover systems ASAP, or else they may loose customers, orders and possibly go out of business. 

            Why do we call the plans for technology situations Disaster Planning?  I guess is comes from the 60’s when IT professionals at the time developed ‘disaster plans’ to deal with large corporate mainframes to ensure they are available at all times or that they can be restored and recovered if a disaster occurred.  They called it their disaster plan. 

            We’ve come a long way since then.  We don’t see a disaster as just a technology situation – it’s more than that.  The term disaster plan should encompass all the actions needed to prepare for and respond to any disaster situation; not just IT.   With the maturity level of Business Continuity Management (BCM) gaining momentum over the years – most notably in North America since 9/11 – a disaster plan can’t be solely based on IT. 

            We need to move beyond that thinking and have technology plans part of an overall methodology or program title, such as BCM.

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