Disaster recovery

Orange lifesaver with rope

Disaster recovery defines the process needed to restore accepted minimal functionality to IT services and data sources following a debilitating incident. The recovery plan also communicates and ensures user access to the restored service functionality and recovery status.

What is an IT disaster?

An IT disaster is defined as a service interruption in one or more main processing sites requiring IT to rebuild a service, restore from backups, or activate redundancy at the secondary site(s).

Disasters may arise due to incidents ranging from the isolated hardware/software failure of critical systems, to more-destructive events such as a fire or flood impacting much of the data center, or destructive cybersecurity events such as a large-scale ransomware attack.

A disaster can also arise from failure of service providers (e.g. Wide Area Network (WAN), internet, electricity), in which case IT invokes backup providers or restores services at a site unaffected by the outage.

What is disaster recovery (DR)?

A successful disaster recovery is completed when:

  • The affected IT services are restored to end-user functionality within the acceptable outage duration window; this is referred to as the recovery time objective (RTO)
  • The affected data is restored to a point no older than the acceptable data loss window (acceptable amount of data lost or requiring re-entry); this is referred to as the recovery point objective (RPO)
  • The end-users affected by the outage have access to restored functionality and have been informed as to the recovery status
  • The business and IT agree that the IT services have been restored

What is business continuity?

IT Disaster Recovery is one component of business continuity, a broader topic that includes:

  • business-led risk management to understand consequences and define tolerances
  • business-led planning to ensure delivery of critical functions during a disaster (including possible manual workarounds)
  • crisis management of all processes related to resolution of the cause of interruption, the maintenance of ongoing business activity and the return to the acceptable desired state of operations

The business continuity responsibility is with each academic, research and administrative unit.

What services can be covered by an IT disaster plan?

  • IT services hosted in our central data center
  • Access to external cloud services managed by the central IT team
  • Network services

What services are not covered by an IT disaster recovery plan?

IT services not hosted in our central data center.  Academic and Research units are encouraged to contact the central IT team to migrate their IT services in the central data center for the option of disaster recovery services.

Who to contact in case of an IT disaster event?

In case of a major IT system failure, please contact the IT Service Desk directly.

For a physical site disaster, please contact Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).

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