2024 Gartner® report: Tips to bolster your disaster recovery program
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March 28, 2024

What is BCDR? Business continuity vs disaster recovery explained!

Business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) are common technology terms that often overlap in meaning and usage. This article provides an overview of BCDR, its importance, and plans and solutions.   

What is BCDR?

BCDR, or business continuity and disaster recovery, is a set of processes to help an enterprise regain business operations during and after a disaster event. A BCDR plan ensures that both business and technology functional areas are covered when a disaster happens. 

Why BCDR (business continuity and disaster recovery) is important for your organization

Since most enterprises are seeing an increase in IT service disruptions, it’s critical to reduce downtime and minimize the impact on employees and customers.

When combined, BCDR provides a more holistic view of processes after a disaster - looking at the overall business functions and IT infrastructure and services. BCDR is important because it helps organizations:

  • Minimize the effects of outages and disruptions to maintain operations
  • Reduce the risk of data loss and decrease the chance of reputational damage 
  • Collaborate when planning for responses to reduce silos and bottlenecks

Similarities between business continuity and disaster recovery

From a birds’ eye view, business continuity and disaster recovery overlap. Both work towards one goal: to help a business get operations back up and running as quickly as possible. 

Differences between business continuity and disaster recovery

When looked at more closely, there are some defining differences between BC and DR. However, comparing business continuity vs disaster recovery can be a bit confusing. But, in the most simplistic terms - business continuity helps ensure a business can operate during crises while disaster recovery is the process to recover from and restore IT infrastructure and services after a disaster event. 

Business continuity (BC) focuses on the whole business during a disaster while disaster recovery focuses only on a subset, the IT services and recovering after a disaster event.

Another way to look at the differences between the two is that disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity. You can’t have a complete business continuity plan without including a disaster recovery strategy and plan. 

In business continuity, disasters can include security breaches, natural disasters, power outages, failures, etc. However, disaster recovery typically considers disasters from a purely technological perspective, focusing on issues such as outages and technology failures.

Business continuity vs IT disaster recovery comparison chart 

Business continuity vs IT disaster recovery

Business continuity (BC) defines the business recovery strategies, work areas,

plans, procedures, and resources needed to meet defined recovery objectives.

Business continuity gathers data from all business units and defines the criticality of each unit, the technology requirements, and the timeliness of recovery activities.

IT disaster recovery (IT DR) defines the technical recovery strategies, capabilities, plans, and procedures to meet the business-defined recovery objectives. It involves the detailed planning and rehearsal of tests and live events as well as live recovery from disasters.

What is the difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan in IT?

Well-defined, comprehensive and regularly tested business continuity and IT disaster recovery plans provide the support to get your business operations functional after a disaster.

While a business continuity plan includes a high-level recovery strategy, it generally does not include the step-by-step procedures for recovery. A disaster recovery plan, on the other hand, includes the in-depth instructions for how to recover each IT application or service.

IT disaster recovery and business continuity plan examples

While there is a natural overlap between business continuity and disaster recovery, the format of plans and solutions varies pretty significantly. 

Business continuity plans provide strategic steps and focus on business aspects. For example, business continuity plans will include: 

  • Location of operations during a crisis
  • Communication methods for staff
  • Prioritization of business functions 

IT disaster recovery plans include comprehensive step-by-step instructions on how to recover and restore IT infrastructure. A large enterprise may have tens or hundreds of disaster recovery plans organized by application or service and each plan can have hundreds or thousands of tasks including:

  • How to fail over to a secondary site or backup location
  • Individual points of communication (application failover has started, failover completed, etc.)
  • Validating the recovery time actual (RTAs) against the recovery time objectives (RTOs)

Business continuity platforms vs disaster recovery solutions

While businesses can store and manage BCDR plans in manual documents or spreadsheets, technology tools can help increase efficiency and reduce manual errors. Best practices recommend using best-in-class point solutions for business continuity and IT disaster recovery rather than finding an all-in-one BCDR solution.

There’s a wide range of business continuity management (BCM) platforms and IT disaster recovery (ITDR) solutions available for enterprises. These platforms enable the storage, management, and execution of BCDR plans and often include automation capabilities.  

Business continuity plans are typically stored in a business continuity platform and include:

  • Scope and objectives
  • Operations
  • Recovery strategy
  • Risk and impact assessment
  • Roles and responsibilities

IT disaster recovery plans are often stored in automated runbooks. While there are different types of runbooks, automated, executable runbooks help reduce manual tasks and standardize disaster recovery processes. IT disaster recovery plans include step-by-step tasks for: 

  • Failover 
  • Server provisioning
  • Access management and security
  • Application and data verifications
  • Individual and broadcasted communication messages
  • Recovery time objectives (RTO)
  • Reporting and auditing
 IT disaster recovery runbook example

Better together: Automate and integrate BCDR plans with Cutover

Cutover’s Collaborative Automation SaaS platform helps enterprises standardize and automate IT disaster recovery plans with automated runbooks that convert static IT DR plans into dynamic to-do lists. By combining both manual and automated tasks in one place, you can manage the end-to-end disaster recovery process with confidence and efficiency.

With Cutover’s flexible API, you can integrate with BCM, ITSM or any application that stores business continuity plans to automate BCDR plans. 

Transform your IT DR plans with automated runbooks, schedule a demo to learn more today. 

Kimberly Sack
IT Disaster Recovery
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