IT disaster recovery (DR) planning: A guide on developing and refining your DR plan

Learn everything you need to know about IT disaster recovery (DR) planning, and how to develop and refine your DR plan, in our free guide.

DR guide imageYou need to treat your IT disaster recovery (DR) plan as if it was a living thing -- your life might depend on it. Jokes aside, just having a disaster recovery plan isn't enough. You need to have a strategy for keeping your DR docs, expertise and staffing up to date. It's no small effort, but some hard work and cold cash now can help you avoid some pretty serious stuff later.

Disaster recovery testing is the foundation of any DR plan health regimen. The more frequently and completely you test, the more likely you'll be able to reveal those hidden gotchas that could cause a recovery to stumble. But re-examining some of the basic premises of your plan is good practice, too.

For instance, the value of certain applications and data may change over time, making the application that your initial business impact analysis (BIA) classified as "critical" not quite as important now. You should revisit your analysis results on a regular basis and see if they still stand up in the context of current business operations.

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 Some other crucial parts of your IT disaster recovery plan should also get a periodic checkup. A big chunk of your disaster recovery budget probably goes to maintaining a recovery site, whether it's company owned or a facility provide by a service. What was an adequate setup a year ago might strain under today's recovery load. Conversely, you may have overestimated your needs back then and current testing indicates the need for a less elaborate (and cheaper) facility.

When you engage a disaster recovery site provider, keep your contracts short or make sure there's enough wiggle room in the agreement to make adjustments -- up or down -- later. You also need to be vigilant for changes in the "patient's" constitution. Adding new technologies like data deduplication might keep your production environment slim and trim, but they can also make recoveries more complex.

We've touched on a few key points here, but a DR plan needs a lot more care and feeding to stay in shape. Read on for some great expert advice and tips to help you keep your IT disaster recovery plan healthy.


--Rich Castagna, Storage Media Group Editorial Director


DEVELOPING YOUR IT DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Eight steps to a foolproof disaster recovery strategy: Achieving disaster recovery "provability" -- or at least greater predictability -- remains a challenge. Fundamentally, a disaster recovery program is a holistic endeavor with a number of moving parts. It's fairly easy to deal with one component of DR and for it to perform reasonably well. The hard part is ensuring the coordination and synchronization of the various elements so they function together. To establish more predictable DR, here are eight tips for a successful disaster recovery strategy.

Disaster recovery site options: When writing and operating a disaster recovery plan, having alternate sites for IT operations is critical. DR site options include hot sites, warm sites, cold sites and mobile sites. Each has its own features, functions and costs. Learn how to choose the best option for your company in this article. In this article, learn how to improve your data storage vendor's technical support.

Four data deduplication strategies for disaster recovery: Data deduplication has made its way into data centers around the world and is in the process of replacing tape as the media of choice for backup data storage. This evolution must be taken into consideration when developing IT disaster recovery strategies. Here are some of the data deduplication technology strategies worth considering.

Disaster recovery outsourcing questions and answers Disaster recovery and business continuity (BC) planning are rushed reactions to a disaster. Proactive DR and BC support can be established with relatively little time investment by employing DR outsourcing services from companies such as EDS (a Hewlett-Packard company), IBM Corp., SunGard Data Systems Inc. and others. But before you choose a disaster recovery outsourcing service provider, consider the following questions in this article.

Click here to download the entire IT disaster recovery planning guide.

This was first published in March 2010
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