Imagine that by the end of this blog piece, you will be a more effective IT decision-maker…all because you learned about one very important aspect of your daily IT-grind and why this is so crucial.
Not only can you learn the in’s and out’s of BDR here, but we also invite you to check out our webinar on this topic, which will help you to navigate the murky details surrounding data backup services.
The most important step.
The most critical step begins with identifying your data recovery requirements.
Before you even outline that data recovery strategy, you need to know what requirements will look like.
The number one responsibility in your IT management role, which very few IT professionals have a plan to overcome, pertains to data backup and recovery services. As an IT manager or the director of an IT department you’re ultimately responsible for the data inside your business. Each type of data requires certain steps to ensure that those records are backed up.
You must consider all the different kinds of data inside your company and ask how they can potentially fail.
Once this is documented you can begin to build a strategy. In this documented strategy, you need to identify failure points. Failures like:
- User error
- Data corruption
- Media failure
- Complete loss of servers or a data center
- Time frame from failure to resuming normal operations
Each potential failure will require you to impose different tactics as a part of your backup and recovery strategy. As you craft a plan to overcome potential pitfalls, as well as your strategy, you need to ask yourself these additional questions:
- If a server failed, a disk failed, or something was destroyed through some sort of catastrophe, how would we recover the lost files?
- How would we work through the loss of data files, control files, and redo logs?
- One of the most important parts of a disaster recovery and data protection plan is Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Have you determined how quickly you NEED to have your systems up and running?
- If an error occurs because of an end-user, or because of a specific application, and some sort of loss of data happens, what’s the process to recover that data?
- Would you be able to determine the cause of an error and then prevent it from repeating?
- If there’s ever an issue causing damage to your data center, what’s your plan to recover?
- How would you recover your system, how long would this task take, and how have you tested your process to flush out any roadblocks?
- Who are the key team members or resources involved? If something happened to you or the key point person inside your business, could someone else recover it?
- Do you have your recovery processes documented, or even automated?
With these issues and questions answered, you can now choose how you can stave off any confusion when an unforeseen issues actually does happen.
Overlooked details for successful recovery.
Other items to look at when crafting your requirements documentation as a part of your backup strategy are:
- What’s your recovery software situation?
- Are you using the off-the-shelf solution that may not help you when configuring or reinstalling your data, or do you have a proven tool?
- Do you have an automated process to backup files, including deleted portions of backups and archived logs?
- Do you have a tool that provides reporting on activities, backup activities, and reporting that can validate that your available backups can be used to recover your system.
Once you decide which functions are important to you and your IT department, then you can move forward with your backup strategy with answers for overcoming plausible scenarios.
Trust, but still test.
Now that you feel you’ve got your plan in place, complete with documentation and requirements, you need to test your process.
Because, while doing a test is hard, going through an actual disaster and not having a plan that’s been battle-tested is harder.
Data recovery plans are complex. Even in a small business, there are intricate, interrelated technologies to consider and support. The ultimate goal is for your company to be up and running. Constant changes inside your organization like staffing shifts, technology upgrades, and new applications require periodic plan validation to make sure the recovery plan goes smoothly.
Without this validation, or test, a business can’t effectively demonstrate that the documented set of plans will actually work to sustain and support critical business functions when in the thick of a disaster.
Periodic disaster recovery exercises are also often times required in regulated industries, like banking, credit unions, financial institutions, and healthcare. Having your backup strategy tested may not just be some fleeting notion, but a requirement to stay in business.
Challenges with testing your BDR plan.
An end-to-end disaster recovery exercise takes into account all relevant data across the entire business system.
Before you just dive right in, consider the many challenges in conducting a true end-to-end recovery assignment. Some of those typical challenges are:
- Determining and isolating the environment(s)
- Replacing IP addresses and host names
- Connecting dependent systems with their corresponding disaster recovery environment
- Proper sequencing of applications
- Thorough communication, preparation and coordination
- Ensuring a back-out plan and data replication during said exercise
Don’t be typical with your BDR.
If you have or are using a out-of-the-box backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution, then you are likely under-prepared.
Get in touch with us – we can help!