Disaster recovery: Test, test and test some more


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The data center
Data center recovery testing prepares for the worst-case scenario: losing a complete data center. Companies have taken two approaches to resume operations after a data center loss. The first and least-expensive option is to resume data center operations in another branch office. If you take this route, the recovery test must ensure that the designated branch office is ready to perform double-duty, a

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lesson learned by Zeller. If harnessing another branch office isn't an option, companies can contract for collocation space to resume data center operations.

The second option is to have a designed DR site--from companies like Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and SunGard Data Systems Inc.--equipped with the infrastructure and resources to resume operations. If you opt for a hot site with one of these DR vendors, agreements should specify the frequency and extent of DR tests. A contract with a defined scope and SLAs makes a difference. "As part of our contract with SunGard, we get two [sessions of] 72 hours of DR testing annually," says Southern Company's Traynor.

Obviously, the ability to communicate with employees and members of the recovery team is critical during a disaster. Assuming availability of the corporate e-mail server or PBX during a disaster is risky. Independent methods of communication can be implemented in various ways. For instance, UNO's Burgard relies on a hosted Web application to communicate with the university staff and students. "The communication Web site plays a central role during our DR tests," says Burgard. Zeller signed up with a low-cost, third-party e-mail provider, using Postini Inc.'s hosted service to reroute e-mail from the corporate e-mail servers to the third-party e-mail service if needed. Most business-continuity planning products include communication modules, such as Strohl Systems Group Inc.'s NotiFind, that are used to deliver critical messages and receive important data during a disaster.


This was first published in September 2006

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