IT speak often comes off as an entirely different language to those who are unfamiliar with all the terminology and jargon. This is especially the case in a highly technical field such as disaster recovery. Never fear! Our disaster recovery glossary will help you keep up when discussing one of today’s fastest moving industries.
Backup: The process of copying data to make available for immediate use should the original version be lost, corrupted, or destroyed. In today’s disaster recovery environment, backups are generally classified in two categories: onsite, as in locally stored within your own data center, or offsite in a remote location.
Business continuity: A program designed to ensure an organization has the protocols, procedures, and processes in place to keep its operations flowing smoothly. From natural disasters to employee mishaps, business continuity examines every possible disruptive scenario and works to minimize the risks to the organization.
Business Impact Analysis (BIA): The process of evaluating mission-critical business processes to determine how they might be affected by a disaster. A BIA is used to decide the order in which business functions will be restored based on their priority.
Cold site: A secondary facility designated to house critical operations if the primary facility is compromised. A cold site has a basic IT environment in place, yet may lack servers, networking equipment, and other infrastructure components, which must be installed to resume operations.
Contingency plan: A strategy an organization employs to ensure the continuity of a specific system. For example, you may outline a particular set of procedures and processes to protect your web server application from failure, and another set for the server hardware itself.
Continuous Data Protection (CDP): A process that automatically backs up data whenever there are changes made. There are two forms of CDP: True and near. True CDP copies data in real-time each time a change occurs. Because there are no time intervals between backups, true CDP enables organizations to achieve the lowest possible RPO and keep their recovered data in sync with their live production systems.
Although based on the same concept, near CDP recovers data to a specific point in time. This approach is different from true CDP, which can only recover to any point in time copied as a snapshot.
Cost-Benefit Analysis: The process of accessing the financial aspects of various business continuity strategies and weighing each approach against prospective cost savings. Cost-benefit analysis is usually conducted after business impact analysis and risk assessment.
Data Protection: The process of safeguarding critical information from loss or corruption using a collection of technologies, procedures, and operations. Data protection is a crucial component in disaster recovery and cybersecurity strategies.
Deduplication: A compression method that eliminates duplicate data on storage systems. Commonly featured in backup software, deduplication helps organizations save on storage costs by maximizing storage capacity.
Disaster: A major, unplanned event with the potential to cause substantial damage or loss. Without planning and preparation, a disaster could hinder an organization’s ability to maintain critical operations for a significant period.
Disaster recovery planning: The process of documenting a plan that will ensure the recovery of critical data and systems in an emergency situation.
Disaster Preparedness: An objective that when achieved, enables an organization to respond to an emergency situation rapidly. Disaster preparedness focuses on responding in a timely, coordinated fashion that minimizes data loss and property damage.
Disaster recovery: A program designed to ensure an organization can resume and maintain critical operations after a disaster. Disaster recovery is often called the technical layer of business continuity because it is built around protecting the hardware, software, and networking components of an IT infrastructure.
Downtime: A period of time that a system is unavailable or inoperable. Often expressed in percentages, downtime can be caused by an unplanned outage or even scheduled maintenance.
Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS): A professional IT solution that sees disaster recovery services outsourced to a third-party provider. Typically delivered from a cloud computing platform, DRaaS may include continuous data protection, point-in-time recovery, and failover to your choice of sites. DRaaS can be incredibly useful to organizations that lack the resources to effectively provision, manage, and test a disaster recovery plan in-house.
Failover: The process of shifting operations to a recovery destination. For example, if your data center experiences an outage, executing your disaster recovery plan would include a failover to the site you have designated in advance.
Hot site: A secondary facility designated to house critical operations if the primary facility is compromised. A hot site is fully equipped with the IT infrastructure necessary to recover and resume business operations.
Incident: An unplanned event that could become a disaster if not addressed in a timely fashion.
Outage: Describes the interruption of IT, communications, and other critical systems. An outage may hinder an organization’s ability to operate for an extended period.
Point-in-Time Recovery: A data restoration method that enables a system to be recovered to a specific point in time rather than the most recent backup. PIT recovery can be used to restore disk volumes, databases, and individual files to a working state before system failure occurred.
Recovery Drill: A simulated execution of an organization’s disaster recovery plan. Also known as a test, a recovery drill is designed to access the recovery team’s level of preparedness in an emergency situation. It can also serve as a training exercise and an opportunity to identify potential issues that need to be addressed.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO): A measure of the amount of data an organization can afford to lose before an incident negatively impacts business operations. RPO is defined by how often you choose to backup your data. So if you backup your server every day at midnight, your RPO is 24 hours.
Recovery Time Objective (RTO): A measure of time that determines how quickly critical data or services must be recovered. RTO varies from one system and component to the next. For example, the RTO for a business email server would be shorter than the RPO for a server housing data that is not of immediate importance to the organization.
Redundancy: A state achieved by supporting live IT systems with additional components that provide the same functionality. An example would be a data center that is equipped with extra servers, storage devices, and networking equipment. When one component fails, redundancy allows another to take on its workload quickly.
Risk Assessment: The process of identifying threats or hazards that could hinder an organization’s core operations. The objective of risk assessment is to implement measures that minimize the impact risks pose to critical business functions.
Service Level Agreement (SLA): A contractual agreement that covers the scope of services a vendor provides to a customer. An SLA generally outlines the service provider’s responsibilities as well as various individual factors that might apply to an organization during a disaster scenario.
Uptime: Describes the availability of a given system or application. IT environments housing mission-critical data typically employ redundancy on multiple levels to maximize uptime and minimize disruptions caused by premature failures.