Almost half of midmarket firms have poor disaster recovery plans, according to one estimate. To view our complete multimedia package, visit our disaster recovery and business continuity supercast. While DR planning may be more challenging for resource-strapped midmarket businesses than large enterprises, there still are basic ways to ensure a timely recovery and maximal continuity.
CompuCom solutions architect Charley Ballmer created a BIA for LifeGift, assessing hurricanes and flooding as the most likely disasters, followed by a terrorist attack on the local petroleum industry.
Now CompuCom runs LifeGift's IT environment from its own operations center, fully testing the DR failover systems every six months. When Chris Formes became IT manager at Brookfield Homes, the $888 million public company didn't have a DR plan, so he hired a contractor to perform a threat assessment and design a recovery strategy. Testing carries some risk, requiring scheduled downtime and potential business consequences. It's not just the technology but also the process that needs a dry run so that everybody knows what to do in the event of an actual disaster. After you develop DR plans, disaster recovery awareness and testing strategies ensure the plan works and that everyone knows their role within it. Once you have drawn up a detailed disaster recovery plan, the next stages in the project are twofold: to prepare and deliver disaster recovery awareness and training programmes so all employees are prepared to respond as required by the plan in an emergency, and to to carry out disaster recovery testing to ensure the plan works properly and that DR teams know their roles and responsibilities. Perhaps the most important strategy in raising disaster recovery awareness is to secure senior management support and funding for DR programmes. The most important strategy in disaster recovery testing is simply to test, test and test again.
Based on the size and complexity of your IT infrastructure, disaster recovery testing activities should address recovery of hardware, software, data and databases, network services, data centre facilities, people (for example, relocation of staff to an alternate site), and the business. Since there are many aspects of an IT environment to be tested, there are different kinds of tests to be initiated. Basic disaster recovery testing begins with a desktop walk-through activity, in which DR team members review DR plans step by step to see if they make sense and to fully understand their roles and responsibilities in a disaster.
The next kind of test, a simulated recovery, impacts specific systems and infrastructure elements. Operational exercises extend the simulated recovery test to a wider scale, typically testing end-to-end recovery of multiple systems, both internal and external, the associated network infrastructures that support connectivity of those assets, and the facilities that house primary and backup systems. Build confidence throughout the organisation that resilience and recovery strategies will satisfy the business requirements. Demonstrate that critical ICT services can be maintained and recovered within agreed service levels or recovery objectives regardless of the incident. Demonstrate that critical ICT services can be restored to pre-test state in the event of an incident at the recovery location. Provide staff members with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the recovery process. Once your DR plans have been tested and your awareness and training plans have been initiated, the next steps are to initiate a maintenance programme and initiate an audit and review programme. The best approach for penetration testing is to use a combination of tools with different approaches.
Data storage and data center disaster recovery planning expert Jon Toigo outlines a common-sense, practical method for disaster recovery and business continuity planning and points to technology that actually works in these video and slide presentations. Data storage and data center disaster recovery planning expert Jon Toigo takes aim at storage and software vendors in this video.

Part 2: Disaster recovery myths and misconceptions There is a lot of hype surrounding disaster recovery, and C-level managers are eager to talk the talk.
Software Testing is a process to help identify the correctness, completeness and quality of developed software. ReliableDR Disaster Recovery Assurance leverages the synergies between the virtualization layer and advanced storage arrays, which enables Disaster Recovery runbooks to be fully automated, such that they run without any human intervention and without impacting production systems. Due the rapid rate of change within modern datacenters, the risk of configuration drift between primary and secondary sites causing downtime is a major cause for concern, even for those organizations that can afford to test their Disaster Recovery plan every six months. Any configuration drift issues that affect the recoverability of applications, IT Services or RTO & RPO SLA compliance, are logged in the recovery dashboard and an email or SNMP alert is sent to the relevant IT support staff or business management automatically.
Guaranteeing that applications and IT Services can always be fully recovered, in the event of a major disruption or disaster, is a complex and difficult task.
Disaster Recover Assurance guarantees that applications and IT Services can be fully recovered quickly and easily, in the event of a major disruption or disaster. He breaks down the facts and misapprehensions about disaster recovery and calls out C-level managers who still look at disaster recovery and data protection as a bolt-on instead of a build-in. DR testing and certification processes are fully customizable, which enables any Microsoft or x86 Linux based application or IT Service to be fully tested and certified. You know who you are – go get a DR plan before a disaster happens and you lose time, data, your job, or all of the above.
Part 1: Current data center disaster recovery plans are subpar Nearly half of all organizations don't have a disaster recovery (DR) plan in place. Part 3: Method for successful disaster recovery Simply testing your DR plan is not enough -- it is critical to have clear objectives when implementing the test and to clearly document the process.
Part 4: Be wary of tech-based disaster recovery options Though disaster recovery is about process and planning, there are technological advances that can help ease data center managers' planning woes. This should cover what threats are likely (power outage, natural disaster, terrorism) and the possible consequences in terms of lost revenue, productivity and reputation. Specifically, tests such as failover and failback of critical servers are among the most frequently conducted. These tests are highly complex, and provide a higher level of risk compared to other tests, as multiple systems will be affected.
Before you reach the actual test, there’s a lot of work that needs to be completed, such as researching the systems to be tested, researching existing recovery procedures, identifying test scripts (if any), creating and approving test scripts, coordinating with other IT departments and business units in the company, and coordinating with external vendors and service providers. The first ensures all the previous DR activities we have been discussing are scheduled for annual or semiannual review, testing and updating. Disaster Recovery testing is a complex and time consuming task, that typically requires many separate steps to be followed precisely, in order to fully test the recoverability of a business application or IT Service.
Disaster Recover Assurance eliminates the risk of downtime caused by configuration drift, by enabling daily, or even hourly DR testing, which highlights any configuration drift issues that might affect the recoverability of an application, or the RPO or RTO SLA of an IT Service. When a disaster strikes, the ability to recover business-critical applications and IT Services in a timely and predictable manner has never been more important.
Essentially, Disaster Recovery Assurance enables the automated enforcement of RPOs and the continuous measurement and compliance of RTOs. The recovery of applications and IT Services is achieved by maintaining a complete and fully tested snapshot of each application and IT Service within a Certified Recovery Point (CRP) at the Disaster Recovery site. Testing is a stage that helps in knowing the difference between actual and the expected outcome which can help you to improve your product quality.
Finding metrics to measure DR can be hard, but IT should at least measure the effective-ness of any solution during a test.

Effective DR requires full testing once a year and after any changes have been made that affect the plan. Disaster recovery testing will ensure that all your efforts to provide recovery and resilience will indeed protect critical IT assets.
Loss of one or more critical systems from this kind of test could result in a serious disruption to the organisation.
Disaster Recover Assurance eliminates the complexity and on-going costs typically associated with traditional DR testing, by fully automating DR test processes and procedures, to enable DR testing to be performed on a daily or even hourly basis, without the need for human intervention. Disaster Recovery Assurance accelerates the recovery time for business applications and IT Services, usually to within a matter of minutes. Storage systems, networking systems, servers, operating systems and applications must all be started, in the correct sequence and finally tested, to ensure that everything is fully recovered and working as expected.
To ensure that recovery times are measurable and predictable, strict RTO SLA policies can be configured and enforced via policy. Lots of people interchange DR and high-availability (HA), but HA is really a set of technologies that you implement to help protect against disasters causing problems. Toigo outlines a commonsense, practical method for disaster recovery and business continuity planning and points to technology that actually works.
If your organization isn't willing to take the necessary steps, your data center will be susceptible to a variety of threats, including natural disasters and shoddy software. Also establish recovery time objectives (RTOs), or the time to full resumption, and recovery point objectives (RPOs), which specify the amount of data loss acceptable in terms of minutes or hours.
Disaster Recovery Assurance is application-aware and is able to test and certify the recoverability of IT Services and industry standard business applications out-of-the-box, such as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, SQL, IIS, Oracle, MySQL, Apache etc.
Multiple applications and IT Services can be recovered automatically, in parallel, while still respecting service dependencies, using flow control logic that enforces boot order priorities.
Fully automating the recovery process also means that less training is required and the risk of human error is also reduced, as complex recovery test plans do not need to be followed and manually checked. Neither of these are doing DR, they’re preventing a disaster from affecting availability. If your organization hasn't tested its DR plan, you're no better off than if you didn't have one at all. Once you have a DR plan in place, the ONLY way to know whether you’re going to be able to recover from a variety of disasters is to simulate some, in production.
We just finished testing a whole datacenter failure to an alternate site in the next state. APO-G Systems have the manpower and technological advantage to support both manual and automated testing as required by the need of the projects. In addition, numerous technical staff with specialist skills are required at each stage of the recovery plan and processes and procedures must be followed and testing results documented.
DR testing can range from a cursory VM heartbeat check and web page access, for a minor application, to very complex queries and heavy transactions for business-critical IT Services. I think I’ve only been involved with and heard of a few successful disaster scenarios. Your disaster recovery plan could be as simple as restoring from the last full database backup, or as complicated as failing over all processing to a remote data center and engaging a 3rd-party company to distribute new DNS routing entries across the Internet.

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