Another new year is just around the corner, which begs the question: Is your disaster recovery team ready for what’s ahead? Of course, what that is exactly is not readily known; however, being prepared for worst case scenarios with a tried and tested disaster recovery plan can get things off to a good start and certainly more peace of mind.
The continuity of your business operations is critical. That’s a given. But how can you be assured that you’re staying in front of the best possible process to deal with disaster recovery? Here are some tips.
Change Thought Processes
Focus on changing the thought process from planning and preparing for an annual test to thinking about DR as a continuous activity.
Involve individual agencies in DR planning and testing, and boost awareness through online and print materials such as posters and planning kits. Educate and encourage your staff to think about DR as a part of their everyday job, not just when an exercise is approaching.
Integrate Change Control
During initial live testing, be sure that changes to hardware and software are being replicated to the recovery site. A quarterly report can help by comparing hardware, operating system and patching production assets with the same assets in the secondary data center, with a configuration management database that flags discrepancies. Over time, the number of issues will decrease showing that the process is maturing.
Examine all production changes to determine the impact, and have change owners speak up when a change in production has a DR component. Closely integrating change control and DR reduces risk.
Improve Use of Technology
Customize what you have or use out-of-the-box tools to improve DR. There are a wide variety of tools available; evaluate which tools best support your applications and budget. Stop using physical tapes for backup to eliminate costs associated with transporting them and the failures associated with the fragility of tape.
Deploying near real-time replication enables you to reduce recovery times and better manage shift work to keep staff rested. Standardize the restore process independent of hardware and automate the collection of systems for the most accurate recoveries possible.
Review Inventory Regularly
Comparing inventory and auditing the main and backup data centers will enable you to reduce disaster recovery failures due to hardware mismatches and improved input for storage capacity planning. Add configuration items to the configuration management database and conduct the inventory comparison and audit on a regular basis.
Ensure that IT staff who propose and oversee tech initiatives consider disaster recovery requirements when designing solutions. This reduces the number of missed requirements and the lag time between rollout and DR implementation.
All in all, having a good DR Plan means being prepared - having the right vendor partnerships and tools in place and then having open conversations internally about various possibilities so that no one is caught off guard. Here's to a Happy and Prepared New Year!