At the outset, its essential to scope any business-continuance/disaster-recovery opportunity. Many people dont think "big picture" here, and dont want to. Its human nature to avoid thinking of disasters. For example, your client may crow about their great backup tape-rotation plan. But even the best plan is not going to help your client recover their lost data if a severe earthquake occurs and the building collapses, burying all of the backup tapes under tons of rubble. (One doesnt laugh about such scenarios in San Francisco.) However, if you, as the expert, were to suggest incorporating off-site media storage into the tape-rotation policy, the chances of data recovery suddenly jumps from zero to a much better number. Lesson learned? The problem (data archival or retention via backup tapes) was well thought out, and a process was in place to do the backups, the only problem was that the scope of the process was insufficient to deal with the disaster.
Begin with the question, "Whats essential to keep the operation going?" This question can be asked at every level throughout the organization. The idea here is to identify critical processes, equipment and data at each level, and then take the steps to protect them. And if the level of the catastrophe exceeds the ability to protect them, then have replacements for each of these items ready to go but located somewhere else, outside the area affected by the event.
Execution doesnt have to be elaborate, either. Using the concept of off-site storage of tape above, a small organization can have a process in place where a trusted employee takes a tape home periodically. Larger businesses often use the services of a bonded records-management concern, like DataSafe or Iron Mountain. Still others use the Internet and periodically encrypt and transfer their data to an off-site vault, such as Rapid Recovery Networks (www.rapidrecovery.com) or Arcus Data Services (www.arcusds.com). As a business-recovery specialist, there are ranges of options open to you: Implement the process, partner with a provider, or provide the service yourself.