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How to ensure your business is disaster-proof

The fear that business services – or indeed entire businesses altogether – might not be recoverable after a disaster level event is a constant source of worry for chief information officers across the world. But things don't need to be that way, according to Hywel Matthews of GlassHouse Technologies.

Disaster recovery (DR), a subset of 'Business Continuity', represents the process, policies and procedures required for the recovery or continuation of technology infrastructure after a devastating event.

Though disasters come in multiple forms and can be highly unpredictable in nature, the impact they could have on your business can now be accurately calculated and mitigated against through robust preparation and testing.

So how do you avoid those stresses and sleepless nights? As with anything, you need to prepare for the worst case scenario, such as by imagining losing everything in and around your primary datacentre facility.

In order to have confidence in your DR solution, you have to be able to answer four key questions:

  • Can my DR infrastructure be affected by the same disaster that destroyed my primary datacentre?
  • Has my DR solution been designed and built to ensure adherence to application recovery objectives (recovery point objective and recovery time objective)?
  • Are my DR processes documented, accessible and understood by everyone that might have to follow or implement them?
  • Can users connect to applications that are running from DR (remember the primary datacentre and associated networks may not be there any more)?

While an audit that addresses these queries will certainly help, the only surefire way to be sure that your organisation is DR ready is by testing, testing and testing some more.

DR checks might be scary and expensive, but they are also invaluable exercises which assess both the DR solution and the people that execute it. Regular DR tests can alleviate the stresses associated with the unknown, and frequent practice will reduce recovery time in the aftermath of disaster scenarios.

Hywel Matthews is a principal consultant at GlassHouse Technologies.