May 16 2012   3:29PM GMT

Disaster recovery documentation falling short

Christina Torode Christina Torode Profile: Christina Torode


I spoke with a CIO years ago who went around his data center and randomly shut down servers. He did this for two reasons. For starters, if no one noticed that the server was off for a week, it obviously wasn’t needed.

The other, more important reason? He wanted to see how his IT staff reacted.

What DR and BC expert Paul Kirvan has found too often is that a lack of disaster recovery documentation is stymieing the best-laid and expensive – costing into the millions — DR strategies.

It’s not simply that they don’t have disaster recovery documentation, but if they do, people can’t understand it.

In one recent instance, a CIO ran through a disaster recovery scenario, and it went off smoothly, thanks to one all-star on the staff who knew how to recover everything off the top of his head.

“I asked, ‘What if he’s sick of on vacation?’” Kirvan said.

His point is that the documentation has to be simple enough and consistent enough for anyone on staff to be able to step in and recover a system — so simple that, even if your IT staff can’t perform the function for some reason, a non-IT person could.

To help get your staff on the same disaster recovery documentation page, Kirvan suggests checking out disaster recovery software, plan templates and guides, a list of which has been compiled by fellow industry expert Phillip Rothstein.

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