Disaster recovery plan – why is it important? Because there is no region, country or city that is immune to disaster, it’s just the level of vulnerability that varies.

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Definition of a disaster and the IT disaster recovery plan

The textbook definition of a disaster is: “A sudden, unplanned event that causes great damage and loss to an organization.” It’s the time factor that determines whether the interruption in IT service delivery is an incident or a disaster and translates to a business’ tolerance.

A commercial definition of a disaster is more precise: “Anything that stops your business from functioning and that cannot be corrected within a timeframe acceptable to your staff and customers.“

There is no region, country or city that is immune to disaster, it’s just the level of vulnerability that varies. To categorize the threat, we talk of these four types of disaster that need consideration when developing your disaster recovery plan: Natural, Environmental, Technological and Political. Natural and Political disasters typically attract the most publicity but they are the least common.

Natural Disasters

These include floods, hurricanes, snow storms, earthquakes, tsunamis and other severe occurrences that can have an immediate impact on your business. In addition, these natural disasters can lead to secondary levels of risk that can have long lasting consequences. The risks vary so you need to consider:

  • Geographic location of your IT environment – topography of the area
  • Proximity to rivers or lakes
  • Possibility of wild fires in dry regions
  • Proximity to geological faults

Environmental Disasters

These include industrial accidents. Hazardous disasters are also spawned by proximity to highways and railways where hazardous waste or combustible products may be transported. Some of the key factors impacting these include:

  • Airport flight paths and major highways
  • Fuel and other volatile substance storage
  • Proximity to power plants
  • Concentration of industry.

kinds of disaster

Technological Disasters

These cover technology infrastructure within the data centre or primary facility. Possible disasters include cable damage, burst pipes in the primary facility or water damage from other tenants in a shared building, data centre environmental and mechanical failures, interruption to the power feed, and major system failure. Factors to consider:

  • Power outages or extended failures
  • Proximity to power sources
  • Damage to systems or data: by human intervention, system errors and failures, computer viruses, commercial espionage.


Political Threats and the Human element

These include a breakdown of authority, war, criminal activity, riots and civil unrest, protests, bomb threats, and attacks on your primary facility. Potential to also include pandemic crises involving an onset of a contagious disease that affects the health of your staff. Causes may include:

  • Terrorism
  • Strikes
  • Vandalism and theft
  • Sabotage
  • Disgruntled employees or intruders.

So, does your company need a DR Plan?

The answer is a resounding YES.

Any type of unplanned downtime disrupts operations and has the potential to cripple a business if a supporting contingency plan is not in place. So what happens after the worst-case scenario becomes a very real disaster situation? Answer: Your business is in crisis.

Gartner reports

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning are organisational imperatives to reduce IT risk. A major goal for companies with little tolerance for downtime is to achieve a high level of business continuity. This helps ensure that their technology infrastructure including applications on their IBM i are always available no matter what the disaster circumstances. Having a fully tested recovery plan in place can increase your credibility as a reliable company that is able to meet service and support commitments following a disaster – giving you a competitive advantage.


Matthew has global responsibility for implementing and managing Maxava’s Cloud strategies and supporting partners in the delivery of Maxava Cloud Services. Matthew has spent many years working with the IBM i platform and its predecessors, and has extensive experience in the management of multi technology infrastructure operations. He is also known for his expertise in Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity planning, Systems Operations, Outsourced Data Centre management and Cloud Computing Architectures. Matthew is based in London, UK, and is involved in the IBM i user community. For questions about this article, contact Matthew.

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