How good is your disaster recovery plan

Storage Bin: Just how good is your disaster recovery plan? That is, if you even have one. But even the best-laid plans may fail in the face of overwhelming disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Sept. 11.

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Just when you thought you had it all figured out ...

The game changes and there are new rules. It's like golf, where it's a game of inches and it turns out that all of your clubs are metric. The thing about protecting yourself is that you can never predict what's going to happen next.

When Sept. 11 happened, we thought we saw the worst of humanity and the toll it took on our happy little world of IT. Thankfully, most of the organizations directly affected were able to failover exactly as planned. The problem was that they didn't think about some of the little things--like phones or a desk where people could use their phones. Some smaller shops found they could withstand a power outage; however, they forgot that without...

power, air conditioning doesn't work and without air conditioning computers melt down.

After Sept. 11 everyone talked about disaster recovery (DR). Nobody did anything about it (well, except for the people that had already done something about it), but it sure was talked about. For a while, the government stuck its finger in and rounded up the Securities Exchange Commission and a bunch of Wall St. muckety-mucks to have them come up with a plan to extend the geographic distance required for financial DR. But the "consortium" turned into a big waste of time, with everyone lobbying for the wrong things, for the wrong reasons, as businesspeople and politicians tend to do.

While we could argue the merits of this train of thought all day, Mother Nature just put an end to it. Hurricane Katrina proved once and for all that believing you're protected just because you have a DR site may be a fool's dream. Ninety percent of all of the land records in the state of Louisiana were kept in the basement of courthouses. Now they're all pulp. I think I can now lay claim to vast tracks of land because no one can dispute it legally. How much money will our country spend trying to figure out who owns what? Probably a heck of a lot more than it would have cost to digitize all that paper and store it locally and far, far away. And it costs relatively nothing to replicate data (and systems) across the country or the world. An interesting fact: Iron Mountain didn't lose a single tape in the region due to the flood. That's a miracle if you ask me.

The human toll from Sept. 11 and Katrina was awful. The human response to both was spectacular. This reminds me to thank some very generous storage companies for once again giving their hard-earned money to Sylvia's Haven, a MA-based shelter for battered women with children. Companies used to give money to the charity because I strong-armed them. Now they do it because they know it's the right thing to do, and for that I'm eternally grateful. EMC, CommVault, GlassHouse, McData, Network Appliance, Softek and Sun were the big sponsors this year, so be a good sport and support those who support others. There were also a couple of individuals, who wish to remain anonymous, who each gave $5,000. That's cool. Who says all of these vendors are blowhards whose only role in life is to take as much as they can from you poor IT slobs? Oh yeah, that was me--my bad.

This was first published in November 2005
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