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My Disaster Recovery Planning Team: Who Should Be Included?

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Covering All Your Bases for a Disaster Recovery Planning Super Team

Refining Your Disaster Recovery Strategy with a DR Dream Team

If you’re in the beginning stages of disaster recovery planning, or you’re looking to improve your process, putting together a DR team is a vital first step. Without the right personnel working together, collaborative DR planning can be fragmented and go unfinished. For a strong beginning, assemble an expert team with specializations covering all areas of IT, Disaster Recovery Journal explained.

We’ve combined advice from Disaster Recovery Journal with Peak 10 + ViaWest’s DR planning processes to compile a list of roles that are key to successful, group-oriented disaster recovery planning. The list may contain positions that aren’t necessarily specified within your organization, and that’s ok—start by assigning DR planning team roles prior to working on your strategy.

Your DR Planning Team: Who Should Be Included?

Executive Management

Executive team members don’t need to be heavily involved with DR planning, but they should definitely provide oversight. You’ll need approval for objectives involving:

  • Strategy
  • Policy
  • Budget
  • Dealing with obstacles

…and executives hold the key. Ensure they’re aware of DR team activities, keep them abreast of planning initiatives, and get buy-in when changes need to be made.

Crisis Management Coordinator

The crisis management coordinator should be a business leader who will head up data recovery management should catastrophe strike. This person will:

  • Initiate recovery plans with the team
  • Coordinate efforts from beginning stages through successful recovery
  • Administrate problem resolution as issues arise
  • Eliminate factors that are delaying the process

Business Continuity Expert

Business continuity is an objective integral to disaster recovery, and it’s a broader initiative. Business continuity is focused on the groundwork and strategy implemented to allow business to continue operations, or fully recover operations, if a disaster event does come to pass. It’s focused on the whole of the organization and encompasses specific technologies and business functions.

That said, the Business Continuity Expert should cover two responsibilities:

  1. Make sure that the DR strategy and plan is in alignment with business needs, which are determined by a thorough Business Impact Analysis (BIA). The BIA should be complete before DR planning starts. If you haven’t done one, you can complete an informal BIA so as not to hold up the process, but know that a complete, strategic BIA is critical to successful DR. It identifies specific goals and allows DR efforts to support actual recovery needs.

    The Business Continuity Expert should facilitate open communication between business and IT and eliminate any alignment discrepancies.

  1. Confirm that the critical pieces of business continuity are clear and present in the DR plan. The IT team will cover technology know-how, but they might not be aware of the fundamentals of business continuity that play a role in an emergency: correct reporting procedure in the midst of an event, contact information for critical personnel and vendors, etc. These are major factors for a smooth, successful recovery.

Impact Assessment and Recovery Team

The Impact Assessment and Recovery team will have the most responsibility in an actual recovery; they have most of the expertise. You’ll need four infrastructure representatives to cover networks and telecom, servers, storage, and databases. Each should be accountable for identifying, implementing, and testing the correct solutions and strategies which will ultimately recover operations. These strategies should be meeting the demands of the critical business units identified within the BIA. Here’s what each representative should be focusing on:

  • Networks and telecom:

    Without storage, servers, and firewalls, nothing works. Telecom is critical to enabling communications, too. The networks and telecom group should understand your organization’s network infrastructure and possess the capability to head up the recovery tactics necessary if connectivity gets taken down. They should also know how the voice communication infrastructure; a disruption will make it hard for personnel to communicate both internally and with external customers and partners.

  • Servers:

    Most technology assets operate on some kind of server, so the server rep needs to know the server and OS infrastructure like the back of their hand, as well as the replication and backup technologies that are required to execute recovery. Virtual machines are the norm now, so the server rep should also be aware of the differences between virtual and physical environments, and implications for DR.

  • Storage:

    Here’s where replication and the protection of data come in: both are at the center of your recovery capability and strategy. In many cases, storage within the processing environment isn’t local, in spite of whether the servers are physical or running the virtual environment.

  • Database administration:

    Databases that hold application data are architectures in and of themselves. They can be operate on shared or individual servers, or might be shared among applications. Data protection has an impact on application data and database recovery, so the database administration representative needs to make sure all of his or her bases are covered.

IT Applications Monitor

The IT Applications Monitor can have a varying level of influence and responsibility depending on your plans for IT infrastructure recovery, as well as the severity of disruption. However, the IT Applications Monitor should know exactly which application tasks need to be executed based on how the Impact Assessment and Recovery Team is planning restoration, including:

  • Data consistency
  • Application integrations
  • App settings and configuration

The IT Applications Monitor should be collaborating with the Impact Assessment and Recovery in the process of identifying recovery steps and put together a plan that addresses critical business unit requirements.

A Nice-to-Have, Not a Need-to-Have: Critical Business Unit Advisors

You can make your DR Planning Dream Team work without these individuals, but your efforts will be greatly enhanced if you can involve representatives from each business unit within the BIA to provide feedback on DR planning efforts. It’s a proactive move to talk about the plan in the initiation stage to gain input from unit advisors. The effort helps identify whether business processes will be affected by proposed recovery steps, and provides the opportunity to discuss feasibility. Otherwise, the DR Planning Team may recommend recovery efforts that will negatively affect the needs put forth by each business unit within the BIA.

Final Thoughts

Critical business units should be your primary focus, but don’t overlook the less critical applications; they still play a role. If a disaster does occur, the functionality of systems and processes will be affected, and they’ll require restoration, so while ancillary applications may not be do-or-die, it’s worth talking about how you’ll get them up and running when the time comes.

Once you put your DR Planning Team together, you’ll be well equipped to create comprehensive, effective business recovery plans that address your needs across all units. Working together with individuals from each area of technology puts you in a better position of defense, and allows personnel to share ideas and expertise before strategy development is executed.

If you think coordination among teams might be a bumpy process, integrate a DR template into the mix. This will bring together the responsibilities of all parties and help you create a formal Disaster Recovery solution from scratch and tailor a plan specific to your company’s needs while uncovering potential gaps.

If you’re looking to develop a DR plan, or would like to revisit your current one, Peak 10 + ViaWest can point you in the right direction. Reach out to us today at www.peak10.com/contact-us or (866) 473-2510 to speak with one of our experts.

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Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest