Alligators in your APIs? Cobras in your cloud backups? Not quite. We’re talking about the bit of every human being that harks back to our reptilian ancestry, the so-called reptile brain.

Whereas your more advanced bits of your brain handle things like reasoning and logic, the reptile brain buried deep inside your cranium concentrates on instincts. It also controls several vital functions like breathing, heart rate, the fight or flight mechanism, and other aspects of survival. When it comes to IT disaster recovery, your reptile brain may have a critical role to play too.

To put it simply, sometimes disaster recovery planning can be too brainy. Models, equations, statistics, and metrics may all have their uses, but they can also lead to planners falling in love with the form of their DR plan at the expense of forgetting about its function.

Even DR plan testing, which should reveal any shortcomings in the plan, can become a victim. Everything becomes centred around compliance, regulations, and recovery objectives, decoupled from other business needs.

Test results are moulded to fit auditor expectations, instead of establishing whether IT installations will function properly fast enough after an incident to keep the business from going bankrupt.

Reptile brain thinking on the other hand focuses on the breathing, heart rate, and basic life support functions of the organisation. It identifies the parts of the company that are the highest priority for survival. It doesn’t use flowery or formal language.

Instead, it comes straight to the point with remarks like “if we can’t ship the same day we get an order, our company will die!” (unable to breathe) or “if our customer service systems go down and we have to do it all manually, our customers will start moving to our competitors (failing heart rate).

These points of view help bring the real needs for good IT disaster recovery back into perspective. So, how about a little reptile thinking for your enterprise today?