IT resilience vs disaster recovery

The Covid-19 situation has caused distress for many organisations. Business-as-usual plans quickly faded into the distance and were replaced by, often frantic, efforts to ensure business continuity, such as enabling remote working for all and giving employees remote access to critical business applications.

It’s safe to say the crisis has highlighted the necessity for robust IT resilience and disaster recovery planning. This has led to organisations asking themselves “how can we keep the business running if a disaster strikes?” or “how do we effectively recover from a disaster?”

You may have heard the terms ‘disaster recovery’ and ‘IT resilience’ used interchangeably. In recent years, there has been a shift more towards a proactive strategy, such as IT resilience. So, what are the differences between IT resilience and disaster recovery, and why has this shift towards IT resilience taken place? This article explores IT resilience vs disaster recovery as approaches to securing your IT assets and delivering always-on services.

Disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is the process of getting IT services back online after a failure or outage. These scenarios can be caused by anything from a natural disaster, global pandemic or a cyber attack. Getting back online can be a largely manual process that requires a high level of human orchestration. Disaster recovery has long been the way most banks deal with major system outages. However, recently, there has been a significant shift towards focusing on resilience rather than recovery.

IT resilience

The IT resilience approach focuses on protecting core services and preventing issues before they occur. This can involve identifying the risks and vulnerabilities associated with the services that support critical business processes and performing detailed risk assessments of the impact of an outage. Measures are then implemented to remove these risks.

IT resilience vs disaster recovery – why has the shift to IT resilience happened?

The shift towards resilience over disaster recovery has evolved mainly as a result of changes in peoples demands. Most of society now expects 24/7 online access to applications and services. Workers want the ability to work remotely, flexibly and have access to the systems they need when they need them – and this has been made even more crucial as a result of Covid-19.

Relying on a proactive IT resilience approach certainly seems like a sensible method not only to protect your organisations IT assets but to provide the secure, always-on access, people and workers have come to expect and need during a crisis such as Covid-19.

What does an IT resilience approach enable?

Always-on IT systems for uninterrupted services

Many sectors operate an ‘always on’ model, such as online retail outlets. Consumers expect uninterrupted access to these services at any time. An increase in digital customer demands has led to a rise in the number of changes required for systems to meet those demands and maintain acceptable levels of service. Organisations need to ensure automated test, and release processes for these changes remain robust and uninterrupted.

An understanding of acceptable service levels required to remain operational

An organisation’s risk assessment determines the acceptable levels of service that the business needs to maintain to remain operational. These levels underpin the provision of robust resilience and recovery tools and processes. Knowing your IT system, its weaknesses and both the resilience and recovery requirements are essential for understanding how to make your system truly resilient.

Continuous improvement of your system and its performance

Resilience processes need continuously reviewed so they can be improved and updated to increase resilience over time. Your system may be awaiting updates, resulting in security lapses, you may be migrating on-premises technology to the cloud creating disruptions, or you may have increasing demands on your system due to the launch of a new product. Monitoring your system and collecting data with an IT resilience approach helps to continuously assess possible weaknesses, allowing you to make changes and become as resilient as possible.

With IT resilience designed to be proactive and create actionable plans should a disaster happen, having an effective IT resilience plan is crucial to the survival of an organisation.

If you would like to understand more about your options for enabling robust IT resilience, read our Azure disaster recovery guide, and discover how you can help your organisation to act and react to unforeseen IT events. Alternatively, visit our business continuity hub, where you can access a wide range of helpful resources.