Failure is a part of life. Many times we are the victims of our own mistakes. Other times we are the victims of the mistakes of others. Then other times, things just happen. Sometimes its an “act of God”, other times its just an unforeseen hardware or software failure. Either way, if you’re an IT Manager, you’d better be prepared for failure.
There are all types of disaster recovery solutions. You need to assess the risks that are applicable to your organization and take measures that are appropriate to mitigate their potential. You can spend a lot of time, money and resources on disaster recovery, but you just need to cover what is MOST likely to happen rather than be concerned with everything can COULD potentially happen.
When Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, I think both me and my colleagues shuddered to think about our counterparts there. How prepared were companies for a disaster? It was easy to reflect on what could happen here in Atlanta. While hurricanes are not much of a threat this far inland, tornados and other storms are common. Even if your building isn’t knocked down to the slab, what would happen if your server room became exposed to the elements? Nothing good could come from that. What would it take to recreate your server environment in another location? How fast could you do it? What would it take to get workstations operational in a new location? What about the phone system? Email? Website? The list goes on and on. It’s easy to see why disaster recovery goes beyond just backups. It’s a logistical nightmare and, thankfully, one that few of us will ever face in our career. But… what if? We must plan to fail.
Obviously, you have to have a solid backup strategy – one you can count on. How do we have confidence in our backups? We restore often. It seems every 3-6 months I have a client who’s employee claims an important file or folder “just disappeared”. How granular is your backup software? I like Acronis because it’s very simple to restore a single file or folder without any hassle at all. This kind of flexibility gives one a lot of confidence when it comes to the most common threat of a user accidently overwriting or deleting an important file or folder.
When developing a backup strategy, its important to consider offsite storage. It doesn’t do much good if your backups are in the same building as your equipment. For my clients, I recommend two sets of backup devices. One set remains onsite and performs a full backup each Friday night. Monday through Thursday night an incremental backup is performed. Another backup device is brought to the office by a trusted executive team member. This device performs a full backup and is returned that afternoon for storage offsite.
Books can be written around disaster recovery and strategies associated with it. I hope this post though has gotten some ideas swirling around in your head though about how you can apply disaster recovery better in your organization.
One final note, one thing I always recommend is to have an annual review by an independent firm that reviews your IT operations to include servers, networking, security and disaster recovery to make sure that best practices are being implemented and done so properly. I know some IT managers don’t like the feeling of being “second guessed” but a impartial audit can be an excellent way to validate your policies and procedures as well as improve your overall IT operations.