Asigra Presents 10-Point Disaster Recovery Checklist For Proactive Enterprise Data Recovery Planning
Data Recovery Leaders Provide Guidance for Maintaining Business Uptime
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Every year, AccuWeather.com issues a U.S. winter forecast, highlighting predictions of temperature and precipitation trends. Last year, winter was unusually warm for much of the eastern two-thirds of the nation. This year, however, above-normal snowfall is predicted for the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and central and southern Appalachians, spanning western Massachusetts to northern portions of Georgia and Alabama. For businesses, severe rain and/or snow storms can result in power outages and flooding. Additionally, tornado season typically starts in March and can last well into July, depending on the region.
The best strategy to protecting an organization's IT operations from experiencing severe data loss in the event of a disaster is to take proactive steps in order to prepare the physical environment, IT infrastructure and staff responsible for managing these areas. In fact, DR plans are essential to ensuring regulatory compliance, including the Dodd Frank Act (in the financial services space) which requires that organizations have detailed DR plans to ensure policy adherence.
The following is a ten point checklist developed by Asigra and the company's service providers who support enterprises in regions recently impacted by natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy. These service providers specialize in data recovery planning, execution and consulting services.
10-Point Enterprise Disaster Recovery Planning Checklist:
1. Have a Written Plan that Evolves with the Organization
Create a formal disaster recovery plan in case servers and local backup systems are damaged or destroyed. Put that plan in a secure location such as a lockbox service online and regularly update as infrastructure throughout the organization evolves.
2. Avoid Windows
Locate your data center (regardless of size) in a windowless room to minimize the possibility of rain damage.
3. Emergency Power
Consider the implementation of uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems on mission critical servers and systems that will allow for the smooth transition from primary (utility) power to emergency power systems during a power outage.
Be mindful of where IT systems are located to avoid damage resulting from floods, bursting pipes and the fire department. Where possible, locate critical servers, storage and systems above street level and avoid basements and other areas where water can accumulate. In single-story facilities, rack critical systems as high as possible above the floor to provide an additional measure of protection.
5. Embrace Geographic Diversity
In the event of a large-scale natural event such as a hurricane, a regional disaster such as a tornado, flood or earthquake or even a localized disaster such as a fire, your data should be backed up in a geographically distant location to allow for remote recovery to a recovery site. Consider data recovery solutions that provide redundant data protection in a location that provides significant separation of the recovery location from the primary data center.
6. Have a Local Backup
Having a local backup copy will be crucial if the primary business location maintains power but loses Internet connectivity and needs to recover server data.
7. Define Disaster Recovery Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Conduct Training Drills
Defining SLAs for recovery is essential as businesses may need instant recovery for some information (explore instant recovery capabilities on virtual machine platforms to get back up and running as quickly as possible), while waiting longer periods of time for lower priority data recovery may not impact operations. However, having such recovery policies and SLAs needs to be an essential part of the DR plan to ensure data can be recovered using the most effective method. Confirm the ability to recover effectively by engaging IT staff to participate in regular disaster recovery drills (recovery testing) to ensure recovery effectiveness. Ensure that data in the backup repositories is indeed recoverable. Also, make sure people have the necessary training to perform recoveries and are well versed with the procedures to recover.
8. Identify a Minimum of Three Business Site Failover Locations
This will allow remotely backed up data to be recovered via Bare Metal Recovery (BMR) to servers at the recovery site location and allow critical business functions to continue in the event the primary site is lost.
9. Employee Communication
Planning and testing are great preparatory tools, however, the events of an actual disaster will almost always bring the unexpected. It is recommended to have an offsite emergency website that all employees can access. With this site, real time information can be communicated to employees.
10. Business Continuance
In a disaster, prioritization is the key. Making sure the most important business functions operate effectively will be critical. A major part component will be support from employees. They need to be capable of performing key business services. Make sure all employees in critical business areas understand exactly how they will connect to the recovered servers and perform their jobs.
Asigra service providers focused on data recovery who support end-user organizations agree that advance preparation is critical to ensure business viability during a disaster. These service providers support thousands of enterprises collectively and highlight the following:
"The best approach to a DR plan is to ensure that all your bases are covered: data, communication, and people," said Jennifer Walzer, CEO, BUMI. "While a primary plan is imperative, you also need a plan B and contingencies in the event of line item failures. Your employees should not only be aware of the specific DR-related processes, they should also be well versed in the technological and communication alternatives. Through this approach, organizations can be better prepared to maintain continuous operations regardless of the disaster."
According to Mike Colesante, VP, U.S. Operations for Backup Technology LTD, "The exact situations and events that will occur in a disaster are unpredictable. The best way to identify most of the challenges and significantly limit the surprises is by involving key personal that actually perform the critical business activities. The IT department alone cannot understand all the processes involved in delivering key business services. While it can be challenging for employees to get into a disaster mindset, that is exactly what is required to think through the challenges. A good walk-through exercise with key business service employees is to have them say, 'I woke up today and noticed we have no building. What do we do next'?"
"The primary steps for disaster planning include ensuring data is recoverable, marking the emergency exits and communicating the event to key personnel and customers. What are the not so obvious steps? Testing is critical. The best laid plans mean nothing if they fall apart under pressure," said Dennis Smith, Chief Technical Architect, EFS Backup Technologies LLC. "Validation restores of critical data should also be regularly scheduled in addition to the testing of information dissemination through emergency channels during non-disaster periods. Working from an alternate location like home, the local Starbucks or a full DR-Site on a day when you are not required to do so will help to verify that your business continuity plans work."
"It is the case with many large enterprises that DR planning can be a difficult and operationally draining process. However, this process can be greatly simplified for organizations by partnering with a cloud backup service provider to ensure key processes are in place," said Tracy Staniland, VP, Corporate Marketing, Asigra. "With expertise in disaster recovery planning across the globe, Asigra Hybrid Partners are especially adept in the design of disaster recovery plans that not only meet specific business requirements but also the regions they operate in and the natural disasters associated with those areas."
To learn more about Asigra, visit: www.asigra.com.
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Asigra is the leading cloud computing software vendor focused on backup, recovery and restoration with more than 550,000 global installations. Asigra Cloud Backupâ„¢ transforms the way businesses manage and protect their data by delivering seamless end-to-end data protection that efficiently scales and easily adapts to any IT environment. With more than 26 years of experience as backup/recovery pioneers, Asigra manages one of the largest business-class backup service provider ecosystems in the world who power their cloud backup services using Asigra technology and provide hands-on local service. Asigra is recognized by leading analyst firms as a top cloud storage vendor. Asigra Cloud Backup was recently recognized with the 2012 Frost & Sullivan North American Cloud Based Data Management New Product Innovation Award and named "Product of the Year" by Storage Magazine. Asigra was also awarded a 5-Star rating in the CRN Magazine's 2012 Partner Program Guide, named a CRN 2012 Channel Chief, and also named a Best Channel Partner for 2012 by Business Solutions Magazine. Asigra is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, with offices globally. For more information, visit www.asigra.com
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