Ask the IT Consultant

Jun 23 2009   12:00PM GMT

Mapping Application Disaster Recovery to Business Requirements


Question: Now that my organization has acquired space at a  remote co-location data center and we’ve installed hardware, where do we need to consider in setting up recovery for our critical business applications?

While it would be impossible in this forum to go into all the possible strategies that you could employ for application recovery, it will describe the areas that you should consider when developing a recovery solution for your company.

Before thinking about any technology, disaster recovery is really more about business risk management.  As such it is important to start by meeting with the business owners of each application to identify the recovery requirements such recovery time objective (RTO), recovery point objective (RPO), end user workload, and whatever other applications or services are required by the application. In short, understand the main parameters of your recovery solution from the business perspective first. Keep in mind that the business owners may not be familiar with the technological underpinnings of the application, so involve the application support staff to ensure a full understanding of the recovery requirements so that the managers can make reasonable decisions based on what is achievable with the current technology and architectures.

From here, design your recovery solution while considering the following:

  • Server power – How much processing power will be needed by the recovered application at the DR site? Will the DR site support production only or will development activities also be occurring there?
  • Replication – How much data has to be available at the DR site, how fresh will it need to be, and how will it get to the DR site?
  • Network – How much network capacity will be needed to support data replication and end user access to capacity and what protocols should the network support?
  • End user access – How will the users of the application access it while running at the recovery site?
  • Application installation and code management – How do you ensure that the latest version of the application is available at the DR site?
  • Application recovery process – What will be the step by step process for recovering the application? Who will execute the recovery process?
  • Change control – How do you ensure that changes to the production version of the application are reflected in the DR environment?
  • Testing – How will you test the resources at the DR site and the recovery process?

In designing your recovery solution, think of it as an on-going resource that must be managed with the same attention as your production environment. That’s because it might someday be your production environment.

John McWilliams, JH McWilliams & Associates, Business Continuity Consultants

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