Disaster Recovery is one of those things that most of us tend to push aside until we encounter an unexpected and highly stressful situation–one that highlights a lack of business continuity and disaster recovery planning at the worst possible time to the worst possible audience: everyone. This is something that a company can handle best with a calm, methodical, and effective group approach.
If your company has not evaluated its Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans, making it a priority this year could save you from an unwelcome spotlight. Don’t do it alone or just with your team: all departments need to get together to develop a DR plan for the company as a whole. This is not just an IT issue, and looking at it in this way helps to build greater understanding of what happens when a crisis occurs for all. This type of cooperation amongst various organizations builds strong relationships and better processes and plans. All involved feel as if their input is heard, the priorities are outlined, the IT department’s Disaster Recovery budget makes sense, and the business is kept safe!
There are 3 primary steps in creating a Disaster Recovery process for your company: DR Planning, DR Testing, and DR Management, in that order.
To keep in line with a calm methodical approach, I felt it best to break this into a 3 part post, starting with a focus on DR Planning within the data center environment.
Here is what you should consider when thinking about your Colocation and Data center environment in order to begin piecing together a plan.
1. What are you protecting yourself against?
This relates not only to the obvious natural disasters like hurricanes. This can also relate to system and human error. What if there was an issue with humidity control in your current data center causing the environment to become too dry, build-up static, and wipe out your fancy new blade servers? Where is all that info? Do you have a second environment to run your production, and can it run indefinitely? Do you have compliance issues you need to consider? How much would your company stand to lose if your data center environment was down for 1, 2, 3 days or longer? How would it impact your business if you lost all your stored data?
2. Ask: what CAN you protect ?
Often times when the IT budget gets the squeeze , it is the DR that feels the pinch. The IT department and the other members of the Business Continuity planning need to make decisions on what are the most crucial elements to back up. From a colocation, data center perspective, you would prefer to have a mirror environment running it active/active with the primary production environment. If this is too costly, you may only have budget to back up your data, in which case a cloud based Data Recovery solution would work well. This will be individual to each business and should be well thought out and endorsed by upper management. Getting the endorsement on a realistic budget goes back to a shared Disaster Recovery plan that is valuable to all departments.
3. Select the Best Disaster Recovery site for your business.
Your DR site should be far enough from your primary where it would not be prone to the same disaster; it’s not good enough to simply have a second collocation environment. As far as natural disasters are concerned, the best region in the continental U.S. would be the Phoenix and Vegas areas. They are not prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or anything like that and there are plenty of data center operators in that region to choose from such as ViaWest, Telx, and CyrusOne, just to name a few.
You should also keep in mind what you are going to do with your mission critical staff; your data center operator should have office space for you to use if you call in a DR scenario. You need to make that part of your contract; keep in mind that if there is a large disaster somewhere, odds are you are not the only one affected. Don’t find out at the last minute that there is no space left for you and your staff to relocate to.
The Phoenix/Las Vegas regions are also rich in fiber so you will not run into connectivity issues like you would in many areas of the mid west. However, it’s not enough just to look at natural disasters. For instance, if your client base is in New England and the NYC area, the latency to run operations out of Phoenix may be too high. Be sure to look at it from several angles. We always recommend touring several facilities before making any decisions. Consult with some industry experts if you don’t know the market, and get some customer referrals.
There are countless ways to go about establishing your Disaster Recovery plan and even more ways to go about implementing that plan. As the old proverb goes, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” Develop your plan as a team, do your research, and it will pay off. Disaster can hit at any time.