Disaster Recovery: Starting a Simple DR Plan

I’m starting a new series on Disaster Recovery that will hopefully run on Fridays for a bit.  Not many companies will even think that they need a plan like this, until a disaster hits and then it’s too late.  In this installment I’ll start you on the thought process and how to go about writing your own.  In the following weeks we’ll go into more depth of scenarios and what you need to think about.

How you go about starting a disaster recovery plan, depends on how you got on the path to thinking about it.  Usually this comes on a couple of ways:

  1. Management asked you to look into it
  2. You are being proactive
  3. You had a disaster and looking to never repeat that again
  4. You had an outage and trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again

There is one of these that some of the hard work is already done, that is, management asked you to look into it.  Meaning they are at least already aware of the need, doesn’t mean the rest is going to be easy, but broaching the subject with management can be stressful.

If management  isn’t looking into a DR plan, then you are going to need to talk with them and get them on-board with the plan.  Top management needs to support this plan, plus the time, energy and money that will be needed  to make this plan a success.

Next you need to start thinking about what kind of disasters you want your plan to cover.  If you are reading this, than it’s most likely your first time, and the answer of “everything” just wont do.  Start first with events that may have impacted your company within the last couple of years.  For most companies this is usually power or service interruption.  From here start to make some plans on how you could keep operations running.  For example:

Company XYZ is in an area were the power often goes out for short periods of time.  So to keep systems up and running, we installed a UPS and Generator for the building.

The reason I suggest starting with these kind of events are that it’s easier to plan and mitigate these kind of problems and will give you the base on which to build on.   When working through these basic scenarios in your group, start to discuss what are the most important systems to keep up and running.  If you company does a lot of online order processing, you may want to make sure that server stay on as long as possible, but maybe the print server doesn’t need to same level up-time.  Also what happens if the primary connection to the internet drops or has problems?  These are things you need to think of, some may be more important that others.

When you start figuring out what technology is critical and what isn’t, you’ll learn its easier said than done.  Almost everyone you talk to will make a case to why their system needs to stay up.  With the help of upper management, you can start to carve out a real picture.

Beside just making sure your servers stay up, another thing which you should be doing anyway, is making sure your servers are backed up.  Servers will fail, it’s all but an inevitability, making sure that you can get the data back up and running after a problem is key to getting your business back on track.

This is the simplest way to make sure you’re covered from the small stuff.  Think…what’s important….what needs to keep running…and is everything securely backed-up?  That’s it.

This is an ongoing series on disaster recovery for businesses, so please check back for the next couple of Fridays as the series continues.  This is not a complete information guide on DR, just something to get you started and thinking.  If there are any questions or comments, please leave them blow in the comments section.

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