Disaster recovery

Disaster recovery

There is common misconception that Disaster Recovery (DR) aka business continuity is the same as a backup. As IT systems have become increasingly critical to the smooth operation of an organisation, the importance of ensuring the continued operation of those systems, or the rapid recovery of the systems, has increased. In simple terms it is the process by which you resume after a disruptive event.

Disasters can be classified in two broad categories. The first is natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. Whilst preventing a natural disaster is outside of our control, measures such as good planning, which includes mitigation measures, can help reduce or avoid losses.

The second category is man made disasters. These include hazardous material spills, fires and infrastructure failure.

I accept that there is a similarity in so far as the systems will be needed when something untoward has happened; however, the main difference is that a disaster will probably mean that your computer no longer exists to restore the backup to, or possibly the backup has also been destroyed!

Imagine the situation, your office has a fire and all the computers are destroyed. What next? Get a copy of the DR plan. What’s that? Then read on…

To ensure you have a robust plan you need to make sure that the following matters (and others) are covered; however, once the plan is in place, consideration must be given to testing the plan. The depth of testing will be dictated by factors such as the complexity of your systems and plans.

Listed below are some of the elements that must be thought about when implementing a plan;

1. Where will we work from – do we have adequate insurance cover?

2. Set out the roles and responsibilities, who will be dealing with the DR and what are, for example, their spending limits?

3. How will staff access the emergency IT systems – have we provisioned enough bandwidth to the spare systems?

4. Who will build the systems or are we large enough to have our own parallel servers?

5. How will the new servers be built and how long will they take to bring into service?

6. How will we get our e-mails – consideration may be given to offsite (Cloud) e-mail solutions to run in parallel with your own systems.

7. Where are all the backups? Are they complete? Have we tested them?

8. Where are our programs - do we have list of all software suppliers to contact?

9. Update the Plan at least every six months.

There are companies that specialise in DR or maybe consideration should be given to what is a potentially expensive, but robust solution, in a SAN to SAN data replication using Storage Attached Network technology now available. No matter what is decided, a plan should be built and tested due to the importance of IT systems in business.

by Stuart Rosenberg

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