Posted by: TechTalker
Disaster Recovery, Leadership
Failure to prepare for a disaster is not an option, a fact driven home after working 25 years in IT, but many organizations still are not prepared for unplanned events/outages and should be. Some people consider a disaster in IT to be the total loss of a data center and associated business systems, when in actuality a far smaller event, such as loss of a single database that hosts your company’s web site, can be just as disastrous.
Does your company/organization have a disaster recovery plan? If so, have you tested it lately? If you answered yes to both questions then congratulations and good job. If not, read on to find out what you can do to prepare for a disaster.
Many people think that preparing for a disaster is something that happens when they are asked to do so by someone else, which is good when that happens, but lacking a specific request to prepare for a disaster is not an acceptable reason to be unprepared. Preparing for a disaster starts with you and what follows are the steps you can take to proactively create and test a disaster recovery plan before a disaster occurs where you work.
The first step towards preparing for a disaster is creating a disaster recovery plan. In this example a database administration/development team has created a formal database disaster recovery plan using a template that includes the following sections –
1. Title page
2. Purpose and Scope
3. Plan Objectives
4. Recovery Team Contact Information/Responsibilities
5. Standard Emergency Procedures
6. Recovery Scenarios/Action Plans
7. Command Center/Data Storage Details
8. Standby Facility Information
9. Critical Application/Database Inventory
10. Supporting Documentation/Information
The first five sections of the disaster recovery plan (Title Page, Purpose and Scope, Plan Objectives, Recovery Team Contact Information/Responsibilities, Standard Emergency Procedures) spell out what the disaster recovery plan will be used for (in this case database recovery), who will be responsible for leading and participating in the disaster recovery effort (database administration team), and what standard procedures should be followed to ensure personal safety and reduce collateral damage.
The sixth section (Recovery Scenarios/Actions Plans) is crucial as this is where each type of disaster, ranging in scope from large (loss of entire data center) to small (loss of a single database table), are each identified as a recovery scenario with a specific action plan identified/documented for each recovery scenario so that in the event of a real disaster the recovery team is ready to leap into action with minimal preparation.
The seventh through tenth sections (Command Center/Data Storage Details, Standby Facility Information, Critical Application/Database Inventory, Supporting Documentation/Information) are the supporting sections of the disaster recovery plan that address where the disaster recovery team will gather and be able to access backup media/recovery systems, know what applications/databases need to be recovered and in what order (priority), and have access to additional/supporting documentation and information to successfully recover from a disaster in a timely and effective manner.
Creating a disaster recovery plan, while very important, does not conclude the disaster recovery preparation process. Being truly prepared for a disaster requires testing a disaster recovery plan and its associated recovery scenarios/action plans initially, and on a scheduled basis. Disaster recovery testing does not have to be done all at once, rather start with the simplest recovery scenario/action plan, schedule and execute the disaster recovery testing exercise, hold a post-mortem meeting to identify lessons learned and update the disaster recovery plan accordingly, and repeat on a scheduled basis.
And that’s all there is to it. Don’t wait for a disaster to strike or be asked to create a disaster recovery plan. Start planning for the unforeseen today and create/test a disaster recovery plan as soon as possible. You, along with your organization, will be glad that you prepared for a disaster when a real emergency situation occurs and your team is ready to leap into action and methodically save the day.
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