For those who haven’t had the benefit of participating in a DRI International course on disaster recovery planning best practices, watch out! There’s still a tendency in some organisations to adopt a ‘one size fits all’ or else a “leave it to IT” approach when it comes to disaster recovery planning. While eliminating complexity may be good, over-simplification isn’t. But modularity and flexibility in your DR planning can help, as long as the modules fit together and cover the range of outcomes identified. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure that your DRP can handle different incidents or disaster situations.

  • Keep Your DRP focused on outcomes. Instead of a stock solution that tries to cover all causes, examine the different impacts on your organisation. Appropriate DR measures may vary: staff working in the office, at a backup site or at home, for example.
  • Think ‘business’ not just ‘technology’. Even if disaster recovery is an IT-centric activity by definition, backup and restore procedures need to be done in the way that is of most value to the business – rather in the way that is the easiest to accomplish technically. Get business people involved and test your plan with them as well to check.
  • Ensure that any cloud storage services you use also give you appropriate guarantees and options in terms of geographically separate sites and data transfer speed for restores. In particular, make sure you can recover a large amount of data in a hurry if necessary (by bulk tape transfer for instance).
  • Set priorities correctly between smallest RPO (recovery point objective or ‘time since last backup’) and highest data consistency. Don’t just take vendor assurances for granted – test data consistency for yourself before any incident occurs.
  • Finally, don’t be fooled by your own technology. If for example you’ve automated data storage so that actions are replicated between your primary storage and your back-up storage, then formatting the first (and destroying data) could automatically trigger formatting (and destruction) on the second, leaving you with no data and no backup. Engage your brain before setting up your IT processes!