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How to start your Disaster Recovery in this "Cloudy" landscape

on Monday, 11 October 2010. Posted in EMC

Let’s start this with a simple quote “Information is the organization’s most important asset

Data is created by the applications and is processed to become information. Information is undoubtedly the most important asset for an organization. Does this make sense? Absolutely! The digital footprint for each person on this planet is growing. In a sense it does not matter whether we as person or corporate store data, it has to be protected. For some people, photos are just as important as a company's ERP system. It is not for nothing Storage vendors put a lot of energy in it to manage this information.

From a DR perspective, the world is divided into two types of businesses those that have DR plans and those that don’t. If a disaster strikes your organization in each category, which ones will survive do you think?
When disaster strikes, organizations without DR plans have an extremely difficult road ahead. If the business has any highly time-sensitive critical business processes, that business is almost certain to fail. If a disaster hits an organization without a DR plan, that organization has very little chance of recovery. And it’s certainly too late to begin planning. Organizations that do have DR plans may still have a difficult time when a disaster
strikes. You may have to put in considerable effort to recover time-sensitive critical business functions. But if you have DR plan, you have a fighting chance at survival.

"Who fails to plan, plans to fail"

Does your organization have a disaster recovery plan today? If not, how many critical, time-sensitive business processes does your organization have? Many organizations do think they have a DR plan. They think they have some procedures and that is all it takes. True, you need procedures, but you need also to be sure that you actually can failover. How do you manage that? Personally, I think testing live will do more damage then knowing you can. I guess, but actually do know for sure every organization change. Many organizational infrastructures changes per hour. Try to fit in your DR plan when changing that fast. Where does that leave you? Good question. Probably when you test your failover you do it once per year, maybe twice or even each quarter. How much do you think has changed since the last time you perform your failover. This is thus a considerable challenge.

Lucky for you there are many techniques and solutions, like "Clouds" where DR plans are probably already well organized, or VMware Site Recovery Manager who can help you with your failover. VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a business continuity and disaster recovery solution that helps you plan, test, and execute a scheduled migration or emergency failover of datacenter services from one site to another. But the most beautiful part of SRM is, you can test a plan without doing it live. Wow!!! Do I hear myself say I can failover anytime without doing some damage to the infrastucture environment. True! Virtualization these day's can make a DR implementations easy. Think not only public but also privat. Privat Clouds have a huge positive impact and synergy. How many of you are looking for partnerships or are each others failover? That makes 1+1=3. But take it easy people. Don't press <Enter> to soon. There is a lot to consider before taking this road.

Consider at least the following items as you set up a disaster recovery program:

- How is it corresponds to your business continuity.
- What is the maximum downtime you can accept? What is your Recovery Time Objective (RTO)?
- How much data loss can you accept? What is your Recovery Plan Objective (RPO)?
- What kind of recovery plan do you need for a partial disaster, compared to a complete disaster.
- How do you classify which data/applications are mission or business critical or part of the DR?
- How do you classify your computing resources?

Depending on the nature of your business, good disaster recovery is achieved by designing a process which enables your operations to continue to work, perhaps from a different location; with different equipment; or from home; making full use of technology to achieve a near seamless transition that is all but invisible to your customers and suppliers. Insurance can mitigate the cost of recovery, but without a disaster recovery plan that gets you back up and running you could still go under. Indeed, more then 70% of businesses who don’t have a DR plan fail within 2 years of suffering a disaster.

So what's next? Certainly a lot! But don't make live to difficult. There will always be one or more single points of failures. You should ask yourself if the costs are worth the five nines (99,999%) availability. The primary task and next step is to determine how you will achieve your disaster recovery goals for each of the systems and system components to ensure that the critical, time-sensitive business processes continue working. First, this is the point at which it becomes important to consider exactly what types of disasters you need to prepare for and to classify them by the extent and type of impact they have.


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