Disaster recovery (DR) planning is fraught with risk. Whether it’s under-scoping your environment or over- investing in capabilities, striking the right DR balance can be difficult.
But the stakes couldn’t be higher: your ability to quickly return to business as usual in the wake of a catastrophe can shape your organization for years to come and even be the crucial factor in its survival.
The need for clear, measurable and unmistakable objectives in the DR planning process cannot be exaggerated – this is how you will ensure that the solution will function as expected when you need it most.
In the last two years the importance of a rigorous approach has actually increased. Tight economic conditions have led to heightened competition in the face of shrinking IT budgets and constraints on corporate spending in general. IT manufacturers have to work harder to win your business, and it’s leading to new product development, feature enhancements for existing solutions and a redoubled commitment to services.
By turning your attention to the three major DR evaluation criteria – risk mitigation, performance management and total cost of ownership – you can keep your selection efforts aligned with your organization’s objectives.
Risk mitigation: Understand risk holistically – from individual technology choices, to a total failure to recover following a catastrophic event. Then, determine the steps necessary to bolster your DR program. Unit integration and end-to-end system testing should be conducted thoroughly and regularly.
Performance management: Simply being able to restore your environment is not enough. You need it to come back quickly. Standards vary by industry, company and particular system, which means priorities must be set, processes implemented and results measured. If your DR solution cannot deliver results within the timeframes demanded by your operation, then it isn’t delivering results. Period.
Total Cost of Ownership: DR is like insurance – you invest now with the hope that you never need to use it. Consequently, you incur a direct, regular expense with no attendant return on investment. This means that you have to manage costs relative to capabilities. Rather than sacrifice features or performance, look for ways to streamline the process with underlying technology that is inherently cost-effective independent of DR (e.g., Novell’s virtual infrastructure).
Together, these three elements will help you identify, architect and implement a resilient DR environment that will get your business up and running quickly following a disruptive event and facilitate a return to business as usual as soon as external market conditions allow.
In DR planning, there is no substitute for balance: costs, capabilities and procedural rigor must be managed to ensure your solution is sufficient without becoming disproportionately expensive. A disciplined selection process that mitigates risk, attains stated performance objectives and keeps costs under control delivers near- term security and long-term results. If all goes well, you’ll never need your DR environment – but you should build it as though it could save your business every day.
You can learn more about the intricacies of balancing DR requirements with Novell’s white paper, A Practical Guide to Cost-effective Disaster Recovery Planning.