IT planning gives you the opportunity to think ahead about your organization's future needs as they relate to your business goals. Many organizations are content to have a disaster recovery plan that provides for minimal basic services in the event of a disaster because of the expense and complexity involved in providing geo-redundant capabilities across all systems. The classical scenarios of fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, sabotage, and other disasters still apply. The process of planning will help you understand how information flows in your organization and provide a clear set of priorities to on which to focus.
Indeed, the responsibility to maintain the integrity of the business in the event of a natural disaster, catastrophic human error, major system failure, or even a terrorist attack can be a daunting task at first glance. These and other events have changed and colored our definition of disasters to the point where they have perhaps permanently altered our very psychology as a nation.
That fact needs to be reflected in our recovery plans today, because routers, for example, now do more than only data. For the remainder of this chapter, we will provide some basic information about what your planning objectives should be, what it should cost, where to get resources, and where you should start. Today, disaster recovery plans encompass every type of automated system, including mainframes, midrange computers open systems, desktop devices, and perhaps even PDAs (personal digital assistants). I could go on all afternoon covering the changes just in the years since the first edition of Business Resumption Planning was published. At the 100,000-foot level we can split disasters into three categories: natural causes, human error, and intentional causes. I think it's safe to say that most of the people initially tasked with responsibility for a disaster recovery plan by their organizations will not really know where to start.
In summary, often the most difficult part of the planning process is simply getting off square one, and starting.
Rotate Responsibilities Among Staff Members: You don’t want the disaster recovery plan creator to also be executing the plan as it’s likely that individual won’t be available if an actual disaster occurs.
Include Stakeholders: These individuals should verify the success of the exercise and know what to expect from recovery capabilities and performance.

Joint Exercises with Business Continuity Teams Makes Sense: BC teams and Disaster Recovery teams should always work together to ensure the success of the operation in the event of a problem. Add Variety to Exercises: Use both technical tests and walk-through opportunities to test the environment and the disaster recovery plan you have in place. Assemble a Core DR Response Team: You need to know exactly who to count on when a disaster strikes. Even with these suggestions in place, the creation of the disaster recovery plan can be a complex process with a number of steps involved. The key to solving the problem is not completely technology based; an IT department needs a good disaster recovery plan for when the worst happens. A disaster recovery plan needs to cover cyber-attacks, hardware failures, user failure, sabotage and natural disasters. While a basic disaster recovery plan looks good on paper, it lacks a business process that covers what an IT department should do if something goes wrong and how that data can be restored to the business.
This forward planning will reveal previously unidentified technology problems, and allow for effective counter measure.
Finally, it is recommended that IT departments organize disaster drills similar to those carried out by civil defense organizations in earthquake zones, such as San Francisco. While this sounds gloomy, when people are ready for the worst, it is more likely that when disaster strikes, the IT department can fix the problem quickly. Vendesco's Virtual CIOs have decades of experience in assessing and planning IT environments for organizations of all sizes and complexity. There are career advantages from the visibility you will receive; after all, for many companies disaster recovery planning is a board-of-directors-level issue. The impact of such disasters, however, is intensified today when they take enabling technologies with them and potentially affect millions of people. In the meantime, learn everything you can from the consultant, first and foremost because it broadens your skill set and makes you more valuable, even on other non-disaster-recovery-related projects and, second, so that you can become the flag bearer for the disaster recovery project in Phase II - not the expensive consultant. The consultants will make the compelling point that disaster recovery is important, presenting all the reasons management needs to fund and endorse the project.

Take the time to consider the potential impacts of a disaster and understand the accompanying risks.
While that might not sound like much, it is the equivalent of 18- 36 days of a business year recovering from some disaster or another. Arranging a drill soon after a disaster recovery plan is developed is vital, particularly if a company has recruited a new data backup provider. Disaster recovery planning protects your IT investment from unforeseen system failures, and provides business continuity. A fourth category can also be added called acts of God as a catch-all for disasters that defy classification (the legal term for this is force majeure). Our team, which includes advisors from the NYC Police department as well as Home Land Security, has had to tackle these disasters first hand, and come through it all the stronger and wiser. You have to phase out what you have and replace it with equipment having fault-tolerant or disaster-resistant characteristics. That means that up to 304 man-hours can be allocated every year to disaster recovery and the added workload could push back other IT projects and deployments.
Most experts believe that a good disaster recovery back-up plan should include some form of automation and testing to eliminate such errors. At the same time, we are reintroducing tried and tested disaster recovery planning fundamentals. DataSource Solutions can work with you to develop a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery strategy for any environment.

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