Keeping The Data Centre Going Over Christmas - The Importance Of DR, Back-Up And Staffing / Management

As the Christmas holidays draw nearer, businesses are preparing for the festive close down and staff are looking forward to some well earned downtime.

Sadly, downtime for the business is not an option and for those concerned with data protection and disaster recovery the risk does not go away.

David Boyd, senior consultant at GlassHouse Technologies (UK) describes what can be done to ensure that everything runs smoothly within your data centre during periods of reduced staffing levels?

It is likely that Christmas will pass without incident and everyone will return to work refreshed from the break. However, to reduce the impact of a disaster you should do a little pre-planning now.

Firstly, check and understand your service level agreements (SLAs). At this time of year most organisations have a reduced customer base.

In this case your recovery time objective and recovery point objectives (RTOs and RPOs) may be longer and pressure to return service following a disaster may be reduced. Conversely, if this is a particularly important time of year (e.g. retail organisations) your SLAs will be much tighter.

The SLAs will dictate how many staff need to be available. If you aren’t going to maintain a large IT workforce on site, be sure you know how to contact them.

Bear in mind the people needed to exercise your disaster recovery plan may not be where you expect them to be; do not assume they will be contactable on the same number or be within an easy commute of the office.

Ensuring that you have sufficient staff cover is a good place to start, but you should also check that your disaster recovery providers have made similar suitable provisions.

Stable backup environments that are not affected by changes made elsewhere will be best placed to cope over the holiday period.

To ensure you are not called as you sit down and tuck into your sprouts, there are a few things a backup administrator will need to check on. Make sure that you have sufficient supplies of empty tapes in your library to tide you over.

Santa will not be doing a delivery, and there is no place less jolly than a data centre on Christmas day!

If your standard operating procedures are to remove tapes and ship those off-site regularly ensure that you don’t break your disaster recovery protocols. It may be your tape management providers do not work over the Christmas break.

If so, determine whether a new process is required. Decisions to leave tapes on-site for an extended period of time should rest with IT management level or above.

Precisely calculate the number of tapes (or free disk capacity) that will be required. Be conscientious that end of year backups could consume more resources than a normal backup cycle and therefore require special considerations.

Ensure that there will be sufficient staffing levels skilled at the right level to run restores, fix bugs and other problems that may arise. A little planning now will mean that you are able to relax and enjoy the break without worrying about all the “what if” scenarios.