It’s Spring: A Good Time to Test Your DR Plan

It’s Spring: A Good Time to Test Your DR Plan

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It’s a beautiful Saturday in spring and your child has his first little league game.  All week you’ve been looking forward to the game. Now you can’t attend because you’re stuck in the data center.  The one hour data recovery project you were supposed to quickly do Friday evening has turned into a full weekend project.  What went wrong? Most likely you never tested your disaster recovery (DR) plan.

As we thaw out after another winter and begin spring cleaning, it’s a great time to take a look at DR plans and give them a thorough test. For all the money spent on system backups and DR solutions, it’s odd that such little time is spent testing them. Most people test to see if a backup or replication was successful without every really inspecting or verifying the data.

Just throwing hardware into an environment and calling it a “DR solution” doesn’t really create a concrete recovery strategy.  In addition, just because everything within your DR environment seems to be operational, it doesn’t mean that when the time comes to use them, they will work. Computing environments are very dynamic. The most simple of changes could render a DR solution inoperable.

To be sure your DR plan is solid, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure any recovery plans are documented.  If a DR plan isn’t a formal document then it’s just an idea and not a solid plan. A good DR plan can be followed without any end user interpretation.
  • Do not store any DR plans on a system that’s part of the recovery.
  • Have any media you need available. Often in a DR situation you need media immediately and can’t wait hours to download it. Also, make sure any media you need is already on-site at your DR facility.
  • Have your software licenses available. Nothing can be more frustrating than having to scramble to find a temporary license key.
  • Don’t just test simple systems. Test complex items such as multi-tiered applications and relational databases.

If your DR plan is solid, you should be able to enact a test with minimal difficulty. If during a test there are a lot of questions that come up, you need to revisit your DR plan and tighten things up. After all, nobody likes to spend their spring weekends in a data center.

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