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New Year Resolution: Dust off your DR Plan

December 18, 2013

Have any of these things happened in your company in the past six months?

  • Business-essential staff were hired or left the company.
  • You rolled out new applications.
  • There was an acquisition or divestiture.
  • You had a technology refresh or significant system upgrade.
  • A key vendor was added or replaced.
  • A new line of business was added.
  • Your company became subject to new compliance regulations, domestically or internationally.
  • You moved workloads to the cloud.

Any one of these or a few dozen other IT or business events could cause your disaster recovery (DR) plan to foul up or fail when put into action. More than ever before, business is changing at a blistering rate, with more of it becoming computer-reliant every day. A DR plan that fails to keep current with the constant onslaught of change is flawed.

DR check lists are popular this time of year … 10 things to do, seven things not to do, things I did that I wish I didn’t, or didn’t do but wish I had. It’s easy to believe these lists have nothing new to impart. Quite the contrary. There is always something new to learn for the same reason DR plans become out of date: speed of change.

Almost without exception, every list admonishes that DR plans be tested regularly. Only about half of companies with DR plans test with any regularity. That doesn’t mean, however, that the tests truly exercise the plan with effective simulation scenarios. A contributed blog from  Zerto hit on a very interesting point that, in testing one’s plan, the actual application user should participate in what the author calls “end user acceptance-based testing”. The strategy then sets in motion a process to ensure the application is tested quarterly.

It’s often difficult and disruptive to schedule a full shake-down of a DR plan, which is one of the big reasons many companies procrastinate. Rather than swallow the whole thing, taking smaller bites with scenario-based readiness testing may be more palatable. SearchDisasterRecovery had one of its regular contributors pull together a collection of seven articles that can help you hit on selected aspects of your plan.

It’s a good idea and better than no testing at all. However, this approach requires true discipline. An organization should commit to completing a full schedule of scenario-based tests within 12 months for this method to be truly effective. And, be cognizant of the fact changes to your business, like those mentioned in the first paragraph, might render a six-month-old test scenario out of date.

As we head into 2014, global disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is receiving much attention, mostly because of the projected high rate of revenue growth. Where there is revenue growth, there will be a rush of new players and services. For SMBs, this can mean that an already confusing marketplace will become more so.

Those considering outsourcing some or all of their DR plan to the cloud should vet prospective providers carefully. Track record, economic viability, owned and self-managed infrastructure and services that can be tailored to your specific requirements are key criteria to consider.

As far as check lists are concerned, remember to look beyond just the IT aspects of DR.  This check list from Peak 10 can help you determine your DR readiness across a range of considerations.

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About Peak 10

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