What is business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)?

| By:
Sagar Kamat

Unforeseen events are bound to occur–and for businesses, it’s critically important to have streamlined processes and plans in place to properly respond to an event like a cyberattack or power outage. Events like these can stall or completely stop operations and take time to recover from, especially if there isn’t a plan in place to get back up and running.

A business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy can help organizations restore normal operations more quickly; however, not all organizations implement a BCDR plan, which can leave them at risk of financial losses or an inability to comply with industry regulations. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that about 25% of businesses don’t reopen after a disaster, making it even more important for organizations to plan accordingly.

If you’re an MSP looking to implement a BCDR solution for a client or simply want to expand your service offerings, this article will help you find the right solution. 

BCDR definition

A business continuity and disaster recovery plan is a combination of business processes and data solutions that work together to ensure an organization's business operations can continue with minimal impact in the event of an emergency. Business downtime can be caused by events like:

  • Natural disasters 
  • Cyberattacks
  • Power outages 
  • A human error like an accidental deletion
  • Hardware failure

Historically, backup plans for critical data involved onsite backup solutions like a disk or tape. This backup media could then be taken off-site to ensure it’s protected in an emergency. However, this form of physical backup can be prohibitive and slow down business if it’s not easily accessible.

With the advent of cloud computing and streamlined business continuity software, businesses of all sizes can now access effective BCDR solutions and enhance their disaster preparedness. A BCDR plan that’s properly managed in partnership with an MSP and regularly updated, can help prevent data and revenue loss.

The difference between business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR)

Business continuity is focused on supporting all aspects of a business when an emergency or disaster occurs, while disaster recovery focuses on recovering lost data and getting IT systems back online. A backup and disaster recovery plan (BDR) can be a part of a business continuity plan and may include steps for how to address certain aspects of the business and mitigate potential impacts and risks. 

Business continuity includes all parts of an organization including:

  • Employees and their contact information.
  • List of third parties and other important entities involved with the business.
  • Understanding of critical business operations.
  • Physical assets like an office building.
  • IT infrastructure

Disaster recovery is more specific to IT systems that affect an organization. It’s the process of recovering lost data and other assets as a result of effective backup plans. If network backups aren’t properly maintained and disaster strikes, it can be costly to your clients, their employees, and their vendors. Critical systems that may be included in a backup and disaster recovery plan are:

  • Servers
  • Devices like phones
  • Network connections
  • Applications used for business
  • Important files
  • Network drives

Ultimately, businesses should plan for business continuity and disaster recovery. The combination of a business continuity backup plan and disaster recovery plan can protect data and minimize business downtime, which can translate into a more secure and profitable business for your clients.

Why BCDR is important

Since the future isn’t predictable, it’s important to have a BCDR strategy in place when weather events, unplanned outages, or cyberattacks occur. Data can be lost or destroyed during events like these, and without a plan in place, businesses can suffer. They may even be at risk of going out of business due to revenue and data loss, and damage to their reputation. 

Having an effective BCDR plan can be an important line of defense for businesses of all sizes, and can protect your clients and their employees, while also providing peace of mind. In many cases, effective cybersecurity and BCDR are intertwined. For more information on this relationship, check out our webinar, Protect and Recover with Cybersecurity and BCDR Solutions.

What does a BCDR plan do?

A BCDR plan is a combination of policies and procedures to help when there’s an emergency or outage so business operations can be restored quickly and effectively. A good BCDR plan will address all aspects of a business, be tested regularly, and rely on BCDR solutions that are trustworthy and comprehensive. 

When helping your clients create a plan, consider the following:

  • The type of BCDR strategy or solution they currently use.
  • How often the BCDR plan is tested.
  • The time it could take to recover from a disaster.
  • The amount of time a business can be down without total loss.
  • Costs involved with business downtime.
  • Are there multiple types of backups (cloud, physical, off-site, hot sites, cold sites, etc.)?

With these considerations in mind, you and your clients can start making BCDR plan steps to ensure their solutions provide the right levels of recovery and security. Some steps you may cover are:

  1.  Identifying the problem: It’s important to determine where the problem occurred, what systems and assets it’s affecting, and how it could affect a client’s business.
  2.  Deciding what needs to be recovered. It’s crucial to figure out what needs to be restored so that business can continue as soon as possible. Identifying the most critical systems can help determine where to begin with recovery, like which data and files to restore and how far back-in-time assets need to be recovered.
  3.  Check that the recovery plan aligns with users. This is where testing a BCDR plan can be important because you want to ensure that the plan in place allows users across a network to access what they need, while still having network connectivity. 
  4.  Restore systems. This may include restoring the original system and deciding the best way to go about doing that. 
  5.  Evaluate the plan after the event. Did your BCDR strategy work? How well? Take time to assess what worked and what didn’t and update your BCDR plan accordingly. When updating a BCDR plan, be sure to remember the considerations noted above.

Solutions to support your BCDR strategy

Developing an effective BCDR plan can be challenging when an organization tries to do it without the help of a qualified MSP. They may not have the experience and tools to properly prepare, which can prove costly in the long run. That’s where your team can step in to become a partner organizations can trust. 

Some best practices to scale your BCDR business include:

  • Helping clients fully recover and remain secure. Comprehensive BCDR services can help you support every level of your clients’ business, including their valuable data. With trusted backup solutions, you can guarantee against data loss, which isn’t provided by every backup service.
  • Providing BCDR services from a single vendor. While organizations can work with several vendors to create a BCDR plan, this can lead to silos and make recovery more cumbersome. By offering one solution to your clients, you can better ensure business continuity.
  • Offering strategic outsourcing. A good BCDR solution will offer outsourcing to a network operations center (NOC) to help manage your team's tasks, like securing more endpoints, conducting routine tasks, and closing the skills gap. NOCs can keep costs more manageable for your clients and help you scale your MSP business with additional resources and offerings. 

If you’re looking to grow your BCDR service offering, ConnectWise is here to help you scale while keeping your clients secure. Start your BCDR product demo today or check out our MSP’s Guide to BCDR for more best practices and strategies for MSPs.