By Sungard AS
After years of experience delivering world-class disaster recovery (DR) services, we've whittled down what we've learned into 10 clear-cut rules for DR that every IT manager can live by. In fact, these 10 laws should go viral across your IT landscape to ensure a fully-recoverable production environment.
1. Don't confuse backups with data recovery
Having a copy of your data safely stored offsite is the first step to data recovery. But, you need to ensure you have the procedures in place to actually access the data in case of an emergency. Make sure you create recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) that specify how quickly your organisation must recover from downtime.
2. All gigabytes are not created equal
Data comes in hierarchies, and mission-critical data needs to be recovered as quickly as possible, while other less-critical data could have a less aggressive RTO. With a tiered data protection solution, you can avoid overcharges for data that doesn't require a high level of protection.
3. Plan to test everything (or expect to fail something)
Test your end-to-end recovery process to determine whether your plan works, assess staff readiness to manage a DR situation, and resolve any problems before they impact an actual recovery effort. Consider everything that might go wrong, come as close as possible to simulating a real-life incident, and have independent reviews and observers. Afterwards, assess what happened during the test to optimise recovery procedures.
4. The only constant is change, so don't ignore it
A successful DR plan meticulously audits the change control process. Developing recovery procedures involves writing a detailed plan or run-book defining how to address the loss of the network (databases, servers, bridges/routers, and communications links). These procedures need to follow best practices and be kept up to date.
5. Think of backups and disaster recovery as a continuum
Many DR test failures result from poor data backup processes, which includes missing data for certain critical applications. Data protection is the core of every successful recovery, so treat backups as a part of your DR plan. (But not as your ONLY DR plan.)
6. Understand the differences and implications of RPO and RTO
Sometimes, the impact of RPO and RTO on your performance, costs and recoverability is not clearly understood. Asking "How long you are going to be down?" versus "How far back will you recover from?" can drive decisions, if properly understood. A service provider who understands both options can help navigate this discussion.
7. Take disaster recovery seriously
A data disaster can have catastrophic effects on a business. Many companies that experienced a disaster resulted in going out of business within two years. When your board or IT manager asks for DR resources, understand they are looking out for the company's best interest.
8. Don't let your DR provider change your production environment
Production workloads run your business, but some disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) providers expect you to alter your production environment to make their DR procedures work. Know that this is not the case with every DR provider.
9. Use your DR for more than just DR
Your DRaaS solution is, in reality, a fully-functional copy of production workloads, which means you can use your DRaaS environment for the "non-production" workloads you do in production, making it an important part of a fully recoverable environment. Code testing, patch testing, data analytics, and user acceptance testing are all potential uses for your DRaaS environment.
10. Work with a reliable partner
There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Disaster Recovery best practices can lead you through proven, best practices procedures to save you time and money while protecting your data assets.