Is it really a disaster?


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Recovered--now what?
You've recovered from a disaster, but now what? How long will you continue to operate out of your disaster site? What kinds of operations will be required there? And how will you get back up and running in your main site? These questions can prove to be especially thorny.

One of the key systems often left out of a disaster recovery plan is the backup server. But the inability to protect data could be a serious omission, especially in regulated businesses. Make sure you have a plan in place to get backups going again after a few days, with appropriate tests to make sure the backups will function properly and contain a useful data set.

You may also find that you begin to outgrow your disaster site fairly quickly, especially when you consider the various concessions made to get things up and running quickly. If you intend to host your VMware images on fewer physical systems, make do without dual Fibre Channel (FC) SAN paths or use SATA disks instead of FC at your disaster site, you're likely to hit a performance wall. Consider how long your business could tolerate limited functionality and performance, and what might happen as demand grows and you need more storage.

The only real solution is to get running normally as quickly as possible. But many disaster recovery products, especially storage replication technologies, lack the ability to "fail back" after a disaster-induced "failover," so check with your vendors to ensure that

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their products handle disaster fail back satisfactorily. And, of course, you must have somewhere to fail back to, whether you return to normal operations at the original location or a new one.

Disaster recovery is complex. It's essential to recognize your real capabilities, but it's also important to extract honesty from the rest of the business. When will we consider a mere failure to have escalated to the level of a real disaster? And what diminished expectations would accompany an honest site-wide disaster as opposed to a simple operational failure? By answering these questions, your plan will progress more rapidly than it would by concentrating on technical solutions alone.

This was first published in December 2006

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