Once you have a DR plan in place, the ONLY way to know whether you’re going to be able to recover from a variety of disasters is to simulate some, in production. Doing an initial test when the DR plan is first produced is great, because at least you know that it works, or there are some things you’ve missed (which is almost invariably the case). I’m also amazed by the number of systems that I work with that have ZERO backup processes in place. We just finished testing a whole datacenter failure to an alternate site in the next state. Any successful business is a product of the time, sweat, and forethought that went into it’s creation .
Training of  employees, testing of the possible scenarios, and rehearsal of the response according to the plan.
After going through the process of creating a sample plan, the team members  come to see many aspects of their company in a new light. Outlined in this section are ten key points as to the importance of planning disaster recovery strategies. In the event of a disaster, a disaster plan will allow a company the ability to quickly and efficiently go back to a state of production by providing methodologies to lessen the impact of said disaster and a process to get the company back into a productive normal state. A Disaster Recovery Plan should be able to scale to the event.  Meaning the plan should be able to work with an act of terror to the facility to something as simple as an employee tripping over the power cable and unplugging a few key systems. A Disaster Recovery Plan will put in place a means to safeguard a company’s key information assets. The plan will help companies to meet government regulatory standards.  This is important to maintain compliance with these standards and keep in good standings with other companies. A Disaster Recovery Plan will show customers that the company is serious about success and give them added confidence about the organizations abilities to overcome any adversity.
Due to the increased dependency of the business over the years on computerized production and research and development,  in creased risk of loss if one of these systems were to go down.  With a well documented Disaster Recovery Plan, its possible to mitigate any damage done to the business due to the loss of one of the said computerized systems. The Disaster Recovery Plan will allow for concise documentation of polices and procedures for the organization. For employees, the training brought about the Disaster Recovery Planning process will be valuable as it will prepare them to react quickly and intelligently in the event that a disaster occurs.
The plan will provide a means identify key people within the organization to help out in the event of a disaster.  These key people will allow the staff to have someone to “turn to” in the event that something happens to provide guidance and give direction. The first step in a disaster recovery plan is to inventory what systems will need to be restored (and in what order, which involves the next step) in the event of a disaster. Once you have performed an inventory of your systems it is important to understand the importance of the data on each system.
After you have inventoried and classified data and systems, a strategy should be developed to determine how systems will be backed-up and restored in the event of a disaster.
Whether your Company decides to manage resources internally or via a third party it is vital that all parties understand their roles and responsibilities for restoring systems after a disaster. After you design a disaster recovery program it is important to design and perform a periodic DR test.
Rather depressingly, 35% of respondents either don’t have a DR plan or have one but have never tested it.


RTO and RPO) then your DR plan actually has to work, no matter how carefully you’ve designed it.
The day to day process of business can be an arduous task involving many resources, and does not often allow those involved to step back and see the big picture of what could happen in a worst case scenario. In general I find it helpful to group all systems by category (see below), but you can do it however makes sense for your organization. Applications – All applications that will need to be backed up in case of a disaster. Infrastructure – All physical (and virtual) infrastructure which houses any data and processes associated with system functionality.
Hardware Components – Hardware includes any physical hardware that may need to be duplicated or restored in the event of a disaster that may result in physical destruction of property. This ultimately helps prioritize backup, assess the impact of the disaster, and hedge against regulatory or compliance concerns.
Critical Data – Critical data is any data that must be restored immediately to resume operations or to meet regulatory requirements.
Ancillary Data – Ancillary data is any information that is not required to restore the system.
Backup and restoration may be done in-house, by a third party, or some combination thereof. In-House Ability – Does your organization have the resources to back-up systems in-house at another location. Third-Part Resources – Most companies rely on third party facilities to maintain copies of critical data and infrastructure.
Understand Roles – Clearly understand, articulate, document, and communicate to relevant parties all roles required to successfully recover from a disaster.
Agreed Upon Procedures – Restoring a potentially large number of systems require a great deal of technical know-how and coordination.
A DR test helps to ensure that everyone in the organization understands their roles and can perform them in an efficient and effective manner.
Periodic Tests – Periodic DR tests should be thoroughly documented and performed on a regular basis. People panic in times of high-stress and crisis, and without a set of steps to follow, bad things happen. This means you have to try restoring from your backups and seeing if you can do it within your downtime SLA. I think I’ve only been involved with and heard of a few successful disaster scenarios.
The major steps are all presented and are filled in with a sampling of some of the minor processes and functions that the disaster planning team feel would be appropriate.
For members of a Disaster Recovery Team,  it is vitally important to the company that someone should have this big picture what if point of view. Data can be grouped into as many categories as necessary according to the type of data your organization stores. Typically this data aids in the efficiency and effectiveness of a product or service, but is not required for operations to presume.


Many companies may have capacity at a nearby location to duplicate vital data and records – those that do not have this capability may need to outsource backup services to a third party data center. Since third party data centers have the infrastructure and training required to quickly restore data and provide quality services in doing so – this may be a more efficient and cost effective solution.
Be sure to include everything from reporting the disaster, identifying the downed-components, contacting vendors and employees, and the specific steps necessary to re-boot the inventoried systems. This is why it is very important to document the steps required to restore each application, server, and database. Your disaster recovery plan could be as simple as restoring from the last full database backup, or as complicated as failing over all processing to a remote data center and engaging a 3rd-party company to distribute new DNS routing entries across the Internet. Of course, business owners often aren’t interested in low-probability potential problems.
What is the point in investing so much time and resource in our company if it could all be turned upside down in an instant by something as simple and commonplace as a summer wildfire?
This enhances restoration efficiency and ensures that employees clearly understand their role in the DR process. You know who you are – go get a DR plan before a disaster happens and you lose time, data, your job, or all of the above. When disaster strikes, it creates a new dynamic for the business and all involved to respond to.
A complete and functioning Disaster Recovery Plan is a company’s best assurance of continued survival. This may reduce the resource burden of DR testing on the business and the Company’s commitment to customers. Lots of people interchange DR and high-availability (HA), but HA is really a set of technologies that you implement to help protect against disasters causing problems. The best way to respond to a new dynamic is to have a blueprint of what actions to take, and what people to involve. For instance, you might implement database mirroring so that part of the DR plan for a database is to failover to the mirror, keeping the database highly-available, while DR happens on the old principal. If you can push for a DR plan test and everything works, everyone has increased peace of mind. Or you might implement auto-grow on the transaction log file so that if it runs out of space the database doesn’t become unusable. If you can push for a DR plan test and things go south, you’ll be praised for having exposed the problems.
Disaster recovery planning teams need to plan to survive various types of disaster while keeping the business intact and profitable. Neither of these are doing DR, they’re preventing a disaster from affecting availability. DR in the second case would be what you do to provision more space for the log so the database can come online again.



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Comments

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