How to create a disaster recovery plan for AWS

A Disaster or a Hazard can be something that puts an organization work at risk, from equipment failures to cyber attack to natural hazards. The aim of a disaster recovery site is to keep business operations active in case of any damage or hazard occurs. Disaster recovery helps in restoring applications, data, and hardware quickly for business continuity.

Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a documented, structured approach with instructions to recover disrupted systems and networks and it helps organizations to run business as close to normal as possible. Not all organizations can afford an on-premises disaster recovery plan because it is expensive to maintain and implement it. With the arrival of cloud technology, this becomes simpler and easier, organizations can have a disaster recovery plan with cloud service providers like AWS, GCP, Azure etc. without taking the hassle of maintaining and implementing it.


Advantages of having a DR Plan

  1. Data and hardware will be protected.
  2. Decreases downtime, increases productivity.
  3. Helps in maintaining your brand image and reputation.
  4. Helps in maintaining your business continuity.
  5. Providing a standard for testing the plan.
  6. Providing a sense of security by minimizing delays and protecting data.


Steps involved while making a DR Plan

  1. Creating a Disaster Recovery Management contingency statement: A Formalized set of rules or guidelines that authorises a DR plan to be developed and implemented.
  2. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis: BIA allows us to identify and prioritize critical IT applications and components. It gives an idea of downtime losses, and how the risks identified will affect the business operations and growth.
  3. Identify Control Measures: Control measures are the steps that are implemented to reduce threats to company. There are three types of control measures:
  • Preventive Measures: These measures identify and reduce risks. They may include surge protectors, installing generators for keeping data backed up and off site.
  • Detective Measures: These measures uncover unwanted events within the IT infrastructure. They keep antivirus software up-to-date, install fire alarms, holds employee training sessions, and install server and network monitoring software.
  • Corrective Measures: These measures used to restore a system after any unwanted event or disaster takes place.
  1. Create an IT contingency plan: Helps in identifying the critical applications and departments that has minimal effect on the business at the time of failure.
  2. Implement testing and training: Testing is required to fill in the gaps, like after the certain period of time, priorities of each department may change, these changes should be taken into consideration after each testing process. Also, not only the senior management but each and every employee must be trained about their part of the DR process.
  3. Plan Maintenance: It should be a live document that is to be updated on regular basis to remain tuned with system enhancements.


DR Plan for AWS

Organizations are using AWS cloud to enable faster disaster recovery as they don’t want to take the hassle in maintaining and expensing of a second physical site. AWS has data centers around the globe and offers a set of cloud based disaster recovery services which enables faster recovery of your IT infrastructure and data.

Following are the steps considered while designing a DR plan with AWS:

  1. Backup your data: Don’t forget to backup your data at regular intervals. Disaster recovery is not backups but it helps in preparing for recovery or continuation of technology infrastructure.
  2. Prioritize costs: AWS disaster recovery plan must be designed in way to meet company’s requirements and it becomes important to make choice between the amount of money spent backup and restoration versus the amount of money that might be lost during downtime.
  3. Determine your RTO: Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the maximum acceptable time that your application can be offline.
  4. Determine your RPO: Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the maximum targeted period in which data might be lost from an IT service due to a major incident.
  5. Choose the right backup strategy: You need to choose between various backup options such as backup using Amazon Machine Images (AMI) or EBS Snapshots.
  6. Identify critical Applications and decide which AWS DR architecture suits your company: You need to identify critical applications so as to gain an idea about downtime losses. AWS cloud offers 4 types of disaster recovery architecture and you can choose one of them depending upon your business requirements:
  • Backup and Restore: It is a cost effective and simple method that uses services like Amazon S3 to backup and restore data.
  • Pilot Light: This method keeps critical applications and data ready so that it can be used to recover data as quickly as possible after disaster occurs.
  • Warm Standby: This method keeps a duplicate copy of your data running all the times, resulting in a very less downtime.
  • Hot Standby: This method fully copies your organization’s data/applications between two or more active locations and splitting traffic between them. When disaster/negative event occurs, traffic is routed to unaffected location, resulting in zero downtime.
  1. Test and Implement your disaster recovery plan: Testing and retesting of every plan is required so as to fill in the gaps and ensuring low failure in any case. Also, you can contact third party vendors for implementing DR plan after it is being designed.


Pros and Cons of using AWS DR Service:

  • Quick retrieval of files and data resulting in high performance
  • Secure disaster recovery platform with industry-recognised certifications and audits.
  • Offers reliable and scalable service
  • No internet i.e., no access to data.


Many options for disaster recovery exist, this article highlights the points required for designing a disaster recovery plan. With AWS you can design a more effective disaster recovery plan using real world scenarios as it allows you to control the maximum building blocks required to build a appropriate DR solution. The key advantage of using AWS service is that they are on demand and you need to pay only for what you use.