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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