Essential guide to business continuity and disaster recovery plans
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I've been in IT for more than 25 years, and the thought of someone jumping into IT now makes my head spin. We're...
living in a time when the IT generalist needs to be a master of so many aspects of business technology -- operations, cloud, on premises, applications, integrations, virtualization -- and the list keeps on going. And on top of this laundry list of stuff you're supposed to know everything about, you need to have a business continuity and disaster recovery plan to keep it all running.
Many of you have a written BC/DR plan in place, and if not, you should. Some of you may have even tested that plan to ensure it actually works. But because BC/DR feels a lot like an insurance policy, your plan probably falls into the "we revisit it every X months" category.
And that's where you begin to fall behind.
With the digital transformation of business and the expectation of "anytime, anywhere, any device" access to your business by your customers, employees and partners alike, the idea of "keeping it running" can no longer be something that you look in on quarterly or annually. What's needed is an operations-focused approach to BC/DR that makes recovery an everyday part of IT.
So, how do you ensure your BC/DR plan stays up to date?
Integrate BC/DR into daily operations
For those systems, applications and data sets that are truly mission-critical, DR testing should be a daily occurrence. Plenty of backup systems offer the testing of image-based backups (e.g., spinning up an image and testing that the Windows logon comes up), as well as more advanced recovery-centric runbook automation to test out multi-tiered applications.
For those of you running smaller operations where this kind of advanced testing is outside your budget constraints, you can still set up alerts for failed backup jobs and manually boot up critical servers in a virtual lab using scheduled recovery jobs.
In essence, you want the BC/DR plan to be a constant part of your daily routine and not an afterthought.
Incorporate BC/DR into implementation planning
As business needs change, it's absolutely critical that IT think about the BC/DR of a new system or application as much as they are about the initial implementation. Identifying tiers of criticality, recovery objectives and the recovery methods necessary to get that new tech back online in the desired time frame is vital.
Include your BC/DR plan in budget discussions
When planning to purchase a new on-premises application, or even a cloud-based subscription, "how do we protect this" and the costs associated with doing so need to be an equal part of the discussion.
Achieve BC/DR consistency
The reality is: There's no real secret sauce here; it's basic blocking and tackling -- but with the added requirement that BC/DR be brought to the forefront of IT's mindset, giving it the same credence that the running and improving of operations get. By keeping BC/DR in the IT operations conversation, you'll find that -- no matter the amount or frequency of technology changes -- your BC/DR plan won't fall behind.