Disaster Recovery Standards for Your Business
Disaster recovery standards vary by different companies. A standard for a company comprised of 50 people may be very different from that of a 500-person company. Each organization will be unique and require a different disaster recovery strategy based upon all of their mission critical systems.
Preparing for Everyday Disasters
While all IT professionals have to be prepared to deal with natural disasters, the reality is that many of us will rarely encounter a disaster of this magnitude. The real (and most common) disaster you will encounter will be a man-made disaster. It could be an HVAC failure within your data center or a network change control that does not go as planned. Other everyday disasters could be a database server that loses a power supply, a PDU that gets overloaded and brings down an entire rack, or even just the loss of a disk drive. The reality is that these are the types of everyday disasters that IT professionals deal with the most often, so they need to prepare to problem solve around them.
One common theme amongst any company, no matter how big or small, is that a great disaster recovery plan has an even better preventive maintenance plan. The best way to avoid most DR situations is by investing the time and money into preventive measures first, then focus on the applications that have been highlighted as being mission critical by your risk assessment.
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Defining Your Disaster Recovery Standards
Once you have completed your risk assessment and isolated your critical applications, you can begin defining your disaster recovery standards.
Years of experience have taught me that a bottom up strategy will work best for most IT professionals. Look at where this mission critical application is and what hardware it is running on. Is it in a data center? Does the application reside on hardware that has redundancy built in, such a dual power supplies, dual network connections, in-bound power from two different sources, etc? Then move up a notch. Do you have dual network sources from different providers? Then move up again. Do you have this application running within an active/passive hardware configuration? Do you regularly check that the failover works? Then move it up to the top. Do you have reliable, tested backups of your data? Can you do a point in time recovery of the database on demand? Asking these questions will help you define the disaster recovery standards for your organization.
While these steps will not fortify you against any DR situation, creating a standard methodology to every mission critical application will ensure that you can withstand the majority of disaster recovery scenarios you might encounter.