Michelle Ziperstein is the Marketing Communications Specialist at Cervalis LLC, which provides data backup and disaster recovery solutions for mission-critical data.
In IT, many of us live by Intel chairman Andy Grove's famous maxim: "Only the paranoid survive." When it comes to Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR), this is true in spades.
The most immediate focus of disaster response and business continuity is the challenge of fulfilling your Emergency Response Plan (ERP), with priorities such as getting employees out of harm's way, safeguarding company assets from further damage, switching to the backup systems within the shortest possible time, and, if you've reserved temporary office space at the BCDR data center (which you should), getting essential employees to that space where they can recover critical business functions and bring core operations back online.
Why is Planning for Home Site Restoration Critical?
However, home site restoration should be an equally important part of your disaster recovery plan. If your company has neglected to provide for adequate resources, manpower and planning to get your main office up and running again, you could get trapped in your recovery environment. In addition to the cost of operating from a rented data center, your failover solution will very likely fall short of the full resources you had at the home site, causing your company to operate below efficiency and losing business to competitors who managed to restore faster.
Explore Alternatives for Home Site
The most severe disruption would come from a permanent or long-term loss of access to your primary location; for this eventuality, you need to have plans to set up normal operations at an alternate site. While a giant IT company like Google that operates multiple locations can respond to the loss of one data center by shifting the load to other facilities and restoring from off-site backups, most companies lack that luxury. Maintaining a "cold site" is a good compromise between readiness and cost - such a site will have the space and basic infrastructure. If you have planned well, your applications and databases will be safely backed up at a BCDR data center; a comprehensive primary site restoration plan should include ready candidates for a new permanent facility, as well as sources for all the necessary equipment to run your regular operations.
If your primary location isn't completely lost, your restoration plan will allow you to quickly assess the damage, find out which equipment and infrastructure are intact and can be restarted immediately, and draw up a plan for repairs and replacements for the facilities and equipment that were affected. A good restoration plan will recognize the possibility that you may need to split your workforce and workload between your primary location and your temporary office space at the business continuity data center, and will make arrangements for communication and management in two locations at once.
There are many other specific ways you can improve your turnaround time when it comes to home site restoration as part of DR planning. Neglect this aspect of disaster recovery at your peril.
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