Disaster recovery runbook--Chapter One: Planning

Data center disaster recovery and business continuity are necessary components to successful data center implementations and business execs would be wise to hop on this bandwagon in an increasingly electronic world. This section of our disaster recovery runbook discusses planning.

Disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) are necessary components to successful data center implementations. Executives are paying attention to DR and BC for a few reasons: services have been rapidly moving to the Web, placing emphasis on the need for a solid IT foundation; customer, financial and employee data are also electronically manifest in modern businesses; lastly, regulatory compliance holds executives responsible if data is compromised.

All this adds up to higher levels of awareness of how data center operations relate to the health of their organizations.

This DR/BC runbook not only discusses why data center and IT operations are worth protecting, but also outlines strategies for doing disaster recovery and business continuity well.

Table of contents

  • Disaster recovery planning
  • Disaster recovery testing
  • Disaster recovery software and services

    Once disaster recovery efforts are in place, it becomes a cyclical process of continued improvement and constant adaptation to the ever-evolving data center. And it all begins with planning. This section of our disaster recovery runbook discusses planning and touches on some DR/BC basics.

    A little less conversation, a lot more planning
    According to some IT experts, the substandard state of current data center disaster recovery plans can be attributed to a few things. First, there are many misapprehensions and misconceptions about the value of DR and BC. They have long been considered a bolt-on rather than a build-in.

    More disaster recovery resources:
    Data center disaster recovery considerations checklist

    Disaster recovery, business continuity hinge on the right philosophy

    Disaster recovery forum at IT Knowledge Exchange

    Second, there seems to be confusion about DR and BC requirements. In other words, successful disaster recovery and business continuity implementations are as much about accepting them as part of everyday business as about common sense and practicality.

    A common misapprehension is the false sense of security afforded by smart site selection. Executives may think that because they've selected a site out of hurricane paths or away from fault lines, that their data center's need for disaster recovery plans and business continuity strategies are muted.

    Though site selection is important, disaster recovery plans must consider more than natural disasters. In fact, natural disaster, while near the top of disaster recovery planning concerns, is outranked by some experts in favor of data security and regulatory compliance.

    Measuring disaster recovery effectiveness
    Though experts often assert that there are no gurus in disaster recovery and business continuity, they will talk about varying levels of awareness and experience. Frequently, rookie missteps include using cookie-cutter templates and failure to measure and assess risks.

    Data center managers cannot afford to take for granted their facilities' distinctiveness when designing plans. Tools for measuring and assessing data center risks, such as CARVER, are available, as well as a number of online disaster recovery checklists from a number of sources.

    But IT people charged with coming up with the disaster recovery plan must do so realistically. They must think about what they want to get out of their plans in terms of recovery time and recovery point objectives. An RTO is a measurement of the amount of time it takes to recover from a disaster. An RPO is the amount of data, measured in time, that you can lose from that same event.

    Planning with realistic metrics, accurately assessing risks and considering more than natural disasters should be your first steps to developing a solid data center disaster recovery and business continuity strategy.

  • This was first published in February 2008

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