5 Steps to Disaster Preparedness (Before It’s Too Late!)

This guest post is written by Virtualization Expert David Davis.

In our infographic, How Long Can Your Business Go Without Critical Applications and Data, you can see that 3 out of 5 businesses aren’t confident that they can recover from a disaster and that “data loss” is the single greatest company disaster. While most of us think of a disaster being a hurricane, earthquake, fire or tornado, in most cases, disaster comes in the form of data loss due to human error (like someone accidentally corrupting your data and then a failed recovery).

While you can predicate a hurricane and take action before it strikes, human error happens every day and happens to even the best and brightest admins and users. After all, it’s hard to “protect yourself from… yourself.”

If you are one of those businesses who feels unsure that they could recover from a disaster (or a human error such as “rm –f *” on your database filesystem) then you need to take action NOW, before it’s too late. After all, this is serious stuff we are talking about. It’s not like the printer running out of toner and you having to run to the local office supply store to buy some.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. UNDERSTAND – datacenters (small or large) are complex “machines” that have been slowly built over time by different people. The first thing you need to do to protect your infrastructure from disaster is to have a good understanding of it. You’ll need to know:

• How many physical and virtual servers you have?
• What applications are running on what?
• How are servers dependent on one another?
• How much storage do you have and how much of it changes on a daily basis? (the change rate)

Keep in mind that, just because you support the infrastructure every day, you can’t assume that you have a full understanding of what you need to understand to prepare for disaster. This is especially true if you haven’t been working on the infrastructure since the day that it was designed and implemented.

2. DOCUMENT – Once you know what you have, you need to document it. Network diagram and spreadsheets will likely be how you will store the answers to all of the questions above. Alternatively, there are server and application inventory applications that can save you significant time.

3. TALK TO THE BUSINESS – Remember that you can only properly protect the business from disaster if they help you to understand the criticality of the applications running in the datacenter and their recovery priority when a disaster occurs. It’s now, with the application owners from the business that you need to define the RPO (recovery point objective) and RTO (recovery time objective). If they don’t know what those are then it’s your job to educate them and ensure that you help them decide on the RTO & RPO values for each of your critical applications, taking the cost of protection into account.

4. TEST LOCAL RECOVERY – With many disasters being human error that can be recovered from quickly using local data backup solutions, you must test your recovery solutions to ensure that they work, as designed and expected.

5. USE Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) - While local recovery is important so are disaster recovery plans in the event that much more than a few files are lost. As the infographic mentioned, a huge percentage of businesses have chosen DRaaS (cloud-based recovery) solutions. With network bandwidth being higher speed and more reliable while cloud-based solutions being more prevalent and accepted, DRaaS has become an easy, less expensive, and more flexible solution than ever before. Building your own disaster recovery site with replication is prohibitively expensive for most companies and offsite take storage services can be unpredictable. Cloud-based backup and disaster recovery is the way to go!

To get started with Disaster Recovery as a Service, read my whitepapers:

Using Doyenz rCloud as Your Virtual Lab
Getting Started with Doyenz rCloud

Regardless of what stage of disaster recovery preparation you are at – don’t wait! Get started today -- before it’s too late. 

About the Author
David Davis is the author of the best-selling VMware vSphere video training library from TrainSignal. He has written hundreds of virtualization articles on the Web, is a vExpert, VCP, VCAP-DCA, and CCIE #9369 with more than 18 years of enterprise IT experience. His personal blog is www.VMwareVideos.com.

Connect with us on Twitter: @DoyenzInc and @davidmdavis