Plan for the Worst-Case Scenario
Step No. 7: Plan for the worst-case scenario
As I described above in "real-life lessons," another common mistake often made is not getting the data and business systems out of the existing data center and into an off-site location that can be recovered from. All too often, companies implement a fault-tolerant system thinking that they are highly available but fail to account for that scenario when they lose power to the entire building (or, in worst-case scenario, lose the building to a fire or other natural disaster). This is probably the exception versus the norm but this wouldn't be called BCP if you didn't plan for just a few scenarios. You have to plan for the worst-case scenario and, if you aren't, you are doing your company a disservice and putting them at risk.
Step No. 8: Think beyond tape
Tape has been a staple of restoration procedures since the invention of computers but just because it has been around the longest doesn't mean it is the best solution. Many companies are replacing tape backup solutions with disk-to-disk backup solutions because the data is readily available and greatly reduces the recovery time typically associated with tapes.
Step No. 9: Make sure your backup plan works
One of the biggest challenges of maintaining a business continuity plan is performing regular exercises of the solution. The biggest excuse for not testing is the usual downtime required of the production systems in order to test the failover and recovery process. Years ago, when I would perform these exercises, we would segment the two data center networks so we could test the recovery process at the disaster recovery facility without taking the production systems offline.
With the adoption of virtualization over the last few years, this is even less of an issue. With virtual machines, specifically Microsoft Hyper-V, the ability is built in that allows for this type of business continuity exercise to a test virtual machine infrastructure, as if it is your disaster recovery center-and it most likely is.
Don't use downtime as an excuse because it isn't. Part of being responsible for BCP is ensuring the functionality of the business continuity plan; exercising that functionality is the only way to ensure it will work when it's needed most.
Brace Rennels is a Professional Services Project Manager at Double-Take Software, and a Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP). He has been involved with over 1,600 disaster recovery installations at Double-Take Software. He is responsible for managing the message of the professional services organization, the partner channel/OEM-related services activities, and the implementation of new service programs to drive Double-Take Software's sales. Previously, Brace was Manager of Technical Consulting Services at OpenPages, Inc. There he worked for one of the fastest-growing content management systems for multiple channel publishing. He trained staff on how to conduct and develop Risk and Business Impact Analysis for clients. Additionally, he was a Solution Architect for designing enterprise publishing, print and Web solutions based on customer business requirements. He created the business model, methodology and mission statement for the Technical Consulting Services.
Before OpenPages, Brace worked for General Data Services (acquired by EMC Corporation in 1999) as a Senior Systems Engineer. There he performed Business Impact Analysis to assist architects for enterprise-wide solutions involving hardware, software and business processes. He was awarded the Professional Services Contributor of the Quarter award for outstanding efforts in FY99. He can be reached at email@example.com.