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With hurricane Sandy dropping into the East Coast of the US this week this is a perfect time to think about DR plans. DR planning isn’t something that people should take personally when it is brought up. There are some IT professionals who consider DR planning to be a personal insult to their ability to setup and configure systems, and there are some developers who consider DR planning to be an insult to their programming abilities.
Setting up DR (or backups in this case) has nothing to do with insulting the IT staff, or that the programmers don’t know what they are doing. As IT workers our job is to hope for the best, but plan for the worst. In the case of this week the east coast of the US is being hit with about the worst case that they can get, a full blown hurricane going all the way up the coast.
I don’t care how good you are at racking servers, installing Windows, writing software, etc. if the power at your data center goes out for a week, and they can’t get fuel to the data center for a week (depending on the number of trees which are down between the highway and the data center, this is a real possibility) the systems will be down and you won’t have planned correctly for the worst.
If you think about this from home perspective instead of the work perspective, when a disaster strikes you don’t want to have to rush to the store to try to find bread and other food items to keep yourself and your family fed during the emergency. If you live somewhere that has regular natural disasters (which is pretty much everywhere at this point) you hopefully have canned food, bottled water, flashlights, etc. at home so that you can ride out this sort of disaster for a few days at the least without running out of food and water. Why shouldn’t you plan accordingly at the office as well.
This sort of planning isn’t something that can be done last minute, because you can’t always see the disaster coming so you don’t always have time to plan (or shop) right before (or as) the disaster happens.
With some forethought and proper planning any business can ride out any disaster. But it requires planning ahead of time and the dedication of the company and the employees to properly setup and test the DR solution. DR projects can be big scary projects if you don’t have someone on staff who has experience with these sorts of things. But that’s OK, that’s what we have consultants for who specialize in these sorts of projects. Not every company needs to keep staff on hand that can plan out DR plans, but you should bring someone in who knows how to plan and execute these sorts of projects successfully. While the consultant may cost a few dollars an hour, it’ll be much less than a failed DR project, and a whole lot less than a failed DR failover.