Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Data loss is inevitable... R U Ready For It

No organization that depends on technology and stores data can afford to be without a Disaster Recovery strategy and a backup infrastructure.

Disaster recovery is the process, policies and procedures of restoring operations critical to the resumption of business, including regaining access to data (records, hardware, software, etc.), communications (incoming, outgoing, toll-free, fax, etc.), workspace, and other business processes after a natural or human-induced disaster.

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) should also include plans for coping with the unexpected or sudden loss of communications and/or key personnel. Disaster recovery planning is part of a larger process known as business continuity planning (BCP). With the rise of information technology and the reliance on business-critical information the importance of protecting irreplaceable data has become a business priority in recent years. Hence there is a need to backup your digital information to limit data loss and to aid data recovery.

Knowing what you need is half the battle and you can't know what you need until you have an understanding of what is critical. The basic question must be, "If the business has to run on a minimal set of applications and infrastructure, what would those applications and support systems be?"

Weigh the amount of risk you're willing to take against the kind of damage a disaster could do to business against the cost of varying levels of disaster readiness.

Accurate baseline information about your systems will get you on the road to Disaster Recovery. Once there, consider your options. If you have multiple, geographically diverse offices, consider having them back up one another. A little extra hardware and some form of disk-to-disk replication will set you up. Remember to budget time and resources for testing--when you need it is not the time to find out your data isn't replicating.

How long can you afford to be down? Get an idea, of the cost of downtime to cost of restoration. Don't forget to account for whether you have to restore from tape, or are willing to allow disk-to-disk backups to your provider. Disk-to-disk will make your recovery a lot faster than if you have to courier tapes from your tape storage location to the Disaster Recovery site.

Disaster Recovery Strategies
Mentioned below are a few of the most common strategies for data protection.
• Backups made to tape and sent off-site at regular intervals (preferably daily)
• Backups made to disk on-site and automatically copied to off-site disk, or made directly to off-site disk.
• Replication of data to an off-site location, which overcomes the need to restore the data (only the systems then need to be restored or synced). This generally makes use of Storage Area Network (SAN) technology
• High availability systems which keep both the data and system replicated off-site, enabling continuous access to systems and data.

Organizations must also implement precautionary measures, some of which are listed below with an objective of preventing a disaster situation in the first place:

• Local mirrors of systems and/or data and use of disk protection technology such as RAID
• Surge Protectors — to minimize the effect of power surges on delicate electronic equipment
• Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) and/or Backup Generator to keep systems going in the event of a power failure
• Fire Preventions — more alarms, accessible fire extinguishers
• Anti-virus software and other security measures

1. Buchanan, Sally. "Emergency preparedness." from Paul Banks and Roberta Pilette. Preservation Issues and Planning. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000. 159-165. ISBN 978-0-8389-0776-4
2. Hoffer, Jim. "Backing Up Business - Industry Trend or Event." Health Management Technology, Jan 2001

No comments: