Darwin is often attributed with the line “It is not the strongest and fittest of species who survive but the most intelligent”. While this statement was really not made by Darwin but by one of his eminent contemporaries, this can be aptly quoted here to underline the reality that only the intelligent, who plan for disaster can survive a holocaust.
Power outages, natural disasters, man-made disasters are persistent facts of life. Enterprises need to display their awareness of the potential loss of business that these calamities may cause by planning and putting in place disaster recovery plans that will help them continue their business despite the disaster.
Disaster recovery planning begins with a set of policies and procedures. These policies underline the organization’s commitment to their business and their determination to survive any disaster.
A through risk analysis kick-starts the disaster recovery plan. All possible risks to up-time are recorded, evaluated and prioritized. The probability of a risk or the impact of the risk determines the ranking of the risk. A risk can be low, medium or high. The recovery plan is then built around the outcomes of the analysis.
Of course, the first daunting factor is cost. Typically disaster budgets comprise of 2 to 8 percent of the enterprise budget and if your budget is way below that, you have a long way to go in your disaster planning activity.
If you are wondering “How expensive will it be?” you need to gird up your lions and take the bull by the horns. The more the preventive measures the enterprise puts in, the more expensive will be the implementation of the plan! Instead of worrying “Can we afford it?”, the intelligent enterprise would wonder, “Can I afford not to afford it?” You can win over the “no-sayers” by showing them data, which indicates the cost of downtime to the business. How long can your business survive without the computer systems and the data that is contained within these systems? If you shoot in the dark without these business indicators, you are likely to lose your argument on disaster planning!
If you have the sanction of the powers that be for your disaster recovery plan, you must begin the process of shaping the procedures. You need to determine the time to recover before you build your plan. If you cannot afford more than a 24-hour downtime, you need to plan to recover within twenty-four hours. You need to put in place the necessary systems, test them and train your personnel to perform all actions required for recovering the data within the specified time frame. The procedure must be scripted and played out repeatedly, until every actor in the recovery procedure is word perfect and ready.
Intelligent disaster recovery personnel do not rest on their backsides once the plan is in place. “Test, test, test” needs to be the mantra. Without this, there is likely to be chaos and panic once the real disaster strikes. Therefore, simulated disasters must keep the recovery team on its toes and every single process and procedure must be tested, modified, retested and perfected till there is no room for doubt on what needs to be done by whom, when, where and how if disaster strikes the organization.
Disaster recovery planning is all about averting disaster with intelligence, perseverance and hard work. It is not an easy task. It is a necessity. So, if you have not planned for disaster, you are making your enterprise vulnerable and a potential candidate to extinction.