Disaster Recovery and When “Back to Normal” Isn’t Enough

When IT systems go down, operations grind to a halt. Hence the importance of good disaster recovery planning to be sure that business critical applications can be restarted as soon as possible, with any data loss remaining within acceptable limits. However, a little thought suggests that if you just bring things back to normal, you are still likely to be worse off than if you had had no disaster. An outage that causes a loss of productivity can only be compensated by people putting in extra hours, which may in turn mean extra pay, i.e. extra expense to an organisation. In addition, the IT department itself may need to budget for extra effort and expense to really “put things right”.

There are several ways in which IT may need to run at higher than normal levels to right the wrongs caused by an IT disaster, including:

  • Extra networking bandwidth for transfer of data backups. If your tactic so far has been to squeeze all you can out of slim bandwidths by transferring incremental backup data to safe locations, make sure you can handle any complete restores you may need after a disaster.
  • Extra system capacity to run additional workloads. People unable to run their jobs, reports, analytics or whatever during the recovery period may now be clamouring for service all at the same time, and all claiming mission-critical priority as well.
  • Extra helpdesk effort to handle the increased load in user queries and support needs, among other things because of the backlog built up during the recovery period.

Ways of meeting these additional requirements may vary. Cloud computing resources can help with extra system capacity. They may allow you to restore complete data backups rapidly, if you have prepared for such a situation and directed your incremental backups to suitable cloud storage with cloud system standby configurations ready to be spun up.

Extra support desk effort may have to come from system administrators and engineers, which will require prior planning and training. In summary, remember that 100% operational afterwards may not be enough, at least for a while, and plan and prepare accordingly.

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