Hows Your DR Plan

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As Sandy wreaks havoc throughout the east coast, we thought some information concerning a good DR plan was necessary. Disasters are inevitable and can strike at any time, so why not be prepared for that? A Disaster Recovery plan offers a proactive solution for times of unpredictability.  Here are some helpful steps from WRAL techwire:

Step One: Identify your critical data requirements.

Pinpointing which business data functions to protect can take some time as you wade through all the electronic files and applications your business has amassed. Resist the temptation to just list applications. For business continuity purposes, it’s far more crucial to have a list in hand that cites the actual business functions your application data performs.

  • Your critical data: what do you have?
  • How much do you have?
  • Where is it stored?
  • Data application license keys
  • Who works with/depends on this data the most?

Step Two: Calculate Recovery Point Objectives.

You also need to know is how long your company can perform without some of this data before business is seriously compromised. These will be your “Recovery Point Objectives.” Some possible considerations:

  • Network or application data: How long can your sales team perform without access to customer/sales history
  • Legal issues: If you were asked by legal counsel to produce an email from three years ago, could you?
  • Categorize by priority: Make sure to assign a recovery priority level for each data type and business process –within 24, 48, 72 hours, etc.

Step Three: Match technical solutions to meet the above state objectives.

Now it’s time to address the costs of protecting your data from disaster. However, don’t rely only on a cost-comparison approach when weighing the benefits of outsourcing DR versus doing it yourself.

  • Equipment costs: How many additional servers will you need to purchase? How many generators will be needed to keep power on for three days, a week, or longer?
  • Energy and real estate costs: How much will backup servers cost in extra energy to power them? Will you have to rent, purchase or build more space to house them? Will you need additional cooling technology?
  • Employee costs: How many weeks or months of staff time will be devoted to setting up and/or running an in-house DR solution and site? How will you contact your employees in the event of an emergency?
  • Auditing and certification costs: If industry or government requirements are pushing you to a DR plan, these costs are almost certain.

If you follow the above steps, you will have a solid handle on which business data and functions to recover ASAP before revenue takes a real hit. That’s half the battle. Once a disaster, such as a hurricane, strikes, what about the other half?

Step Four: Assess the damage

You won’t have much time to get all the information you’d like, as employees and customers will soon want to know what is going on. The goal here is to get as full a report as you can in the shortest time possible. At a minimum, you’ll need to know:

  • What happened?
  • Which systems are affected?
  • What needs to be done to recover?
  • Do you declare a disaster or not?
  • Estimated time of recovery – everyone will be asking you this.

Step Five: Communicate!

Over-communication is the art of war when it comes to a disaster. If the key people know what’s going on, they’ll relax a little. But how do you communicate when your corporate phone and email are down?

Keep an updated contact list stored at a free online file sharing site.
To get the word out as quickly as possible, assign a communication tree where one person calls three people, who each call three more people, and so on.
Have alternative email addresses in place, such as Yahoo or Gmail, and consider a text messaging solution like ReadyAlert.

Step Six: Restoring connectivity

So, how do you get people connected back to your company and your systems back online? The short answer is, until power is restored to your facility, you can’t reunite your people with their needed business applications. That being said, it’s possible to restore this power yourself, if your company has “redundancy” for all your key systems, such as:

  • Power redundancy
  • Internet redundancy
  • Cooling
  • Network
  • Critical
  • DNS (Domain Name System)
  • Database Servers

It should be noted that in-house redundancy isn’t a guarantee if the power outage stretches out longer than expected. Few companies invest in the kind of long-lasting generator power that a professional data center, for example, has on hand.

The Best Defense: A Good Offense

Being prepared in advance makes a world of difference when it comes to managing your business in the face of disaster. Having a DR plan will keep your IT infrastructure from being compromised and your company up and running. It is essential to design a plan that is appropriately tailored to your company and leverages the best methodology for your business and type of data. Pre-consideration of your company’s priorities and best practices allows for clear, logical thinking when disaster does strike. Proactive measures like these will allow you to implement the best solution when it comes to avoiding business interruption caused by disaster.



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