Developing a Disaster Recovery Strategy

Developing an effective disaster recovery plan is something that many businesses struggle with.  While most strategies vary from company to company, there are fundamental similarities which they all share.  By identifying similarities within an industry, businesses can create a general template to guide the creation and implementation of their specific disaster recovery plan.

Determining a Business’s Exact Needs

The best place for a business to start is identifying their exact backup needs.  To accomplish this, they must determine which data is most important to protect, how to protect it, and how long this protection is required.  This is determined based upon the value of the data for the business as well as how quickly the data needs to be recovered.  Another important consideration is the recovery point objective.  Only by understanding the data restoration requirements can an effective backup plan be implemented.  The specific backup plan plays a central role in the disaster recovery strategy.

Choose a Backup Plan Which Provides an Immediate Solution

During the initial creation of a disaster recovery strategy, the first backup plan must provide an immediate solution.  If this is the first backup plan being used, a stopgap solution should be implemented immediately.  This provides businesses with an adequate level of protection while they modernize their data recovery infrastructure and develop a sustainable, long-term solution.

Reduce the Data Footprint

The single largest hurdle to developing an effective disaster recovery strategy is the sheer volume of data which needs protecting.  Reviewing data access and usage patterns will help identify data which can be archived.  This type of data normally comes from databases, file systems, and e-mails.  The data footprint can be further reduced by archiving inactive data using a real-time compression as well as implementing a de-duplication solution.  Once this has been completed, the focus of the disaster recovery plan can target mission critical data.

Decide Between Upgrading and Starting Fresh

Even businesses without a formal disaster recovery strategy will have some layer of protection naturally built into their network.  To develop a future proof strategy, it is important to decide whether or not the current system can be effective with a few upgrades or if it is more effective to start over from scratch.  In order to decide this, businesses must step back from their current technologies and determine if they can be utilized into the foreseeable future.

Involve Staff Responsible for the Current Situation

Identify the staff responsible for implementing and maintaining the current backup plan and get them involved with the creation of the new disaster recovery strategy.  They are the most likely candidate to know exactly what the current data protection needs are.  They also have insight regarding current strengths and weaknesses.

Developing a disaster recovery strategy is an intense process.  Along with using established metrics such as the recovery time objectives and recovery point objective, taking a closer look at the current infrastructure is essential.  It will lay the foundation for the decision-making process and guide businesses towards a more effective disaster recovery plan.

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5 Distributed Physical Threats Found in a Data Center

The most common threats to data centers include power issues, cooling problems, and fire.  There is however, another type of threat known as distributed physical threats which include the following:

Air Temperature

Monitoring air temperature is essential in any area with IT equipment.  It is particularly important to monitor air temperature in rooms, racks, and directly around the equipment.  The most common method of achieving this is by using temperature sensors.  If air temperature is not monitored, it can lead to equipment failure or a reduction in the equipment lifespan.  This is caused by constant air temperatures above equipment specifications and frequent, drastic temperature changes.

Humidity

Humidity must be monitored at the room and rack level.  The focus must be on the relative humidity at specific operating temperatures – not humidity levels in general.  This is achieved by using humidity sensors.  If there is too little humidity, equipment failure can be caused by static electricity buildup.  If there is too much humidity, condensation can cause equipment failure and create an unsafe working environment for personnel.

Smoke and Fire

All data centers already have basic smoke and fire detection monitoring because it is required to meet local building codes.  The codes are governed by specific legal and safety regulations.  Unfortunately, the legally required smoke and fire detection monitoring in a data center is not enough.  Supplemental smoke sensors strategically placed near all operating IT equipment is critical to preventing electrical and material fires.  Unmonitored fires cause equipment failure as well as a loss of assets and data.

Airborne Contaminants

There are a number of potential airborne contaminants in data centers which become hazardous at high levels.  The most common airborne threats include hydrogen from batteries and dust particulates.  Using chemical sensors, hydrogen sensors, and dust sensors eliminates the risk of airborne contaminants in a data center.  If hazardous airborne contaminants are left unmonitored they can quickly create a dangerous situation for personnel.  Excessive hydrogen can also affect UPS reliability.  The risk of equipment failure also increases because dust increases static electricity and clogs filters and fans.

Leaks

One of the most difficult dispersed physical threats in a data center to monitor is liquid leaks.  The leaks are most likely to be either water or coolant.  This can damage floors, cabling, and equipment.  It can also be an indication of CRAC problems.  The best way to monitor for leaks includes rope leak sensors and spot leaks sensors.

These lesser known threats can cause just as much downtime as the more common threats. A minimum level of monitoring for physical threats is never adequate for identifying and preventing dispersed physical threats in a data center.  The best data centers utilize a variety of additional sensors and monitoring techniques to protect themselves from these threats.  Since these physical threats are distributed throughout the data center, the location of sensors will vary based upon the room layout and equipment positioning.

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