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By Ben Puzzuoli, Director Sales & Marketing at DataDepositBox
DataDepositBox Online Data Backup Expert Tips: The Importance of Disaster Recovery Planning
While the shock waves rippled across the world, everyone watched the twin towers collapse in a flurry of dust taking it with thousands of people, efforts of years and whole businesses. Were they immune to disaster? Well, the businesses that occupied the premises in the twin towers appear to have thought so. The aftermath made them realize that disaster is an imminent possibility and they were left ruing their short sightedness. If only they had removed the data on a daily or continuous basis to some geographically distant premises, their business continuity would not have been a question mark! In the circumstances, the wise do not wait for disaster to strike before they plan. They visualize every possible disaster and plan how they will tackle it when it strikes.
A study by the University of Texas revealed that about 85% of small and medium businesses and even large businesses were dependent on information technology systems and any disaster that takes their system with it will destroy their business. Studies have also shown that enterprises can generically expect about 35 different types of disasters to strike them. These can range from power outages to earthquakes, fires and acts of terrorism. In fact, any event that disrupts service and is beyond the organizations control should be viewed as a potential disaster and recovery plans should be put in place to handle the disaster.
Disaster recovery planning is complementary and a necessary adjunct to business continuity planning and contingency planning. It defines the ability of the organization to function effectively even in unfavourable environments.
Disaster recovery planning will involve gathering information about possible disasters and their potential impact on business continuity. It will require prioritization of information; organization of activities for recovery and training of personnel at all levels. It implies that the top management is fully involved and convinced about the disaster recovery plan and process and the members of the disaster recovery team are fully conversant with the critical systems of the organization and come up with a well thought out plan and strategy for recovery.
An important component of disaster recovery planning is business continuity planning. Since businesses depend on their data repositories for their continuity, data recovery planning becomes an important and vital component of the plan. The protocols for creating multiple backup copies of the data in accessible repositories, therefore, become the first step in the direction of disaster recovery planning. Apart from backup tapes that are stored in secure offline vaults and geographically distant premises, organizations must also backup their data continuously or near continuously on to mirror servers that are located in a different geographical zone. If the cost of acquiring mirror servers and hot sites (data centers which can take over from the primary center in the event of a disaster) is beyond the enterprise budget, options to use the online backup services of service vendors should be explored.
Frequent testing scenarios must be built up to ensure that the data in offline and online data backup servers are accessible and can be used to restore the business to the pre-disaster state. The online backup servers must be set to continuously or near continuously backup the data and should be capable of restoring the data to primary servers up to the point in time when the disaster occurred. If primary servers cannot be recovered due to natural disasters, the hot site or the online backup server, functioning as a hot site, must be ready to service the business information needs from any other location on the globe.
Of course, disaster recovery planning extends beyond mere business continuity planning. It includes planning for the safety and security of the personnel; safety of customers; safety of equipment other than computing equipment and so on when disaster strikes. Disaster recovery planning may also encompass post disaster activities such as transporting men and material to safe locations, providing people with food and water and modicum of shelter and ensuring the availability of health services.
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