Disaster Recovery is Specific in Degree, not in Dimension

In two otherwise vastly different sectors, say nuclear power generation and office cleaning services, is disaster recovery also vastly different? What is at stake may be very different.

A systems failure or data corruption in a nuclear power station could lead to a catastrophe. On the other hand, a server going down and taking the week’s cleaning schedules with it will not have the same impact.

You might lose some customer satisfaction, but you won’t poison the environment for the next 100 years. Yet despite these sizable differences, it can be argued that DR is still a one-system-for-all solution.

Note that we say, “one system for all”, not “one size for all”. If you think about clothes and human beings, this distinction should become clearer.

Humans have one head, two arms and two legs, and clothes are systematically made to fit that topology. The differences are in the sizes for tall, short, well-rounded, or skinny.

The shirt with three sleeves doesn’t exist (practical jokes aside). A similar approach applies to disaster recovery. The different dimensions to be considered are the same.

Risk, impact, recovery time objective, recovery point objective and so on apply to every entity and every IT infrastructure, whether we’re talking about one smartphone or a thousand IT servers.

However, that last remark raises another interesting point. There are levels of interconnectivity and interdependence between 1,000 servers that don’t exist for a single smartphone. Is that an extra dimension, a sort of “third arm” that distinguishes these two cases?

We would argue the other way around. Interdependence of systems will always be a consideration in disaster recovery planning and management.

It’s a question of where you position the cursor on the sliding scale of the importance of that consideration, or for any other dimension. For the smartphone, you might slide that cursor all the way down to zero.

But remember that you did so. Otherwise, you might forget to slide it back up for that nuclear power station, and that would be really bad news.

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