Business Continuity And Disaster Recovery Best Practices From The Availability Front Lines
As a Marine I learned the hard way how difficult it is to think straight under pressure. Now I find myself after two decades in the trenches of business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) realizing some of the same lessons-learned apply to Information Technology! Since becoming a business technologist in the mid-1990's, I've been ambushed by unexpected problems, had to "march" at double-time to meet our business objectives, and sweat it out waiting to see if a plan-of-attack was going to work like our marching orders said it would!
So, I'd like to save you some of the blood, sweat, and tears I've experienced along the way by sharing with you these six valuable lessons-learned from the trenches. These are lessons that may seem like common sense… but you'd be surprised how many people ignore them and fail.
1. Maintain a full copy of your mission critical data outside your production region.
Let's say you have your primary data center, including all your applications and data, in Atlanta, Georgia. I don't recommend building your secondary data center in a town just 15 miles away. A single event could easily disable both data centers.
Though a "safe" distance depends on geography and other factors, a general rule is this: you want to maintain a full copy of your mission critical data at least 150+ miles away, and have the IT resources needed to use the data for business continuance and recovery. That will usually be sufficient to ensure both data centers are not affected by a single disaster, and your company will be able to continue doing business even if a serious outage or loss occurs.
Ideally, the two data centers would be on separate power grids, but in spite of this general rule, there may be specific use-cases where it's perfectly appropriate to locate your primary and secondary data centers nearby. Just do your homework or consult with an expert prior to making any final decisions.