ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a methodology for improving the delivery of the IT services of an organisation. Logically enough, that includes disaster recovery – making sure that those services are made available again in a suitable way after an incident that prevents them functioning correctly. Following best practices for DR as part of ITIL methodology means using a number of DR concepts that you may already have met. But from a practical standpoint, the right tools and approach will be important too. They can also help you take your operations to certification level in ISO 20000, which is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM).

Your first actions within the ITIL framework will be to define recovery requirements: maximum periods of service outage and minimum service levels of service during recovery, for instance. Risk assessment with a business impact analysis (BIA) to develop a mitigation plan will be next. The disaster recovery plan will include relevant details of the DR objectives, dependencies, procedures and responsibilities. Tools to help achieve the right level of disaster recovery readiness include secure storage for the DR process information and plans, and trackers for updates and corrections to the plan. If a specific DR tool is not available, office automation applications such as word processing and spreadsheet software can be used, and the results made available on a central file server.

Participation and support from stakeholders is also a key part of getting disaster recovery planning in shape according to ITIL (and up to scratch for certification to ISO 20000). This is where both process and attitude count. DR planning is an activity that requires good communication and support from senior management. It must also be measurable in terms of progress made. All these things require time – both at the beginning and on a continuing basis (quarterly, for example), to ensure DR planning stays up to date and effective.  So start by getting ‘buy-in’ for your DR programme and planning, and commitment from the people who need to be involved. Then you can work through the ITIL steps to achieve satisfactory results.