05 Mar 2013

Are you really prepared for an IT disaster?

Having a disaster recovery (DR) plan is essential for any IT department, regardless of the size or nature of your company. Natural disasters, power and network outages and infrastructure failures represent significant threats to companies without a comprehensive DR plan. Here’s what you can do to survive a catastrophe.

Back up your systems as well as your data

While it’s vital that user data be backed up on a regular basis (ideally daily), this isn’t the end of the story. With operating system updates, patches and changes occurring at an ever-increasing pace, it’s just as important to have up-to-date backups of your underlying systems as well as user data.

Make sure you can restore data to new hardware

Your data may not have been the only thing damaged. It’s worth being able to implement a “bare-metal” recovery plan, where your data and systems can be recovered without having to load an operating system and applications beforehand and separately. This will allow you to restore more quickly onto entirely new hardware. Virtualisation of your environments will aid bare-metal data restoration.

Actually plan for a disaster

Too many disaster recovery plans simply describe the systems you’ve got today, and assume an ability to rebuild them. In a disaster, that’s almost certainly not going to be the case. Develop a plan with the fewest minimum basic requirements in terms of systems and hardware, and be ready to execute this plan if that’s what’s needed. Identify an order of priorities for what needs to be brought online soonest, based on its importance to your business and the ease of recovery.

Deal with it now

If there are vulnerabilities to infrastructure failures and natural disasters in your existing system, don’t  put off dealing with them. A good disaster recovery plan is the difference between a business failing or succeeding in the event of a disaster. Do what needs to be done as soon as your budget allows it.