This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download "Storage magazine: How to plan for a disaster before a software upgrade."
Download it now to read this article plus other related content.
In addition to periodically testing your disaster recovery (DR) site, DR testing tools can constantly monitor the site's readiness to recover from a disaster.
The first place to look for confirmation that critical backups and data replications to the DR site took place is the backup and replication software you're using and the reports it generates. In addition, the same tools storage administrators use for day-to-day storage efficiency and management can help assess the health of their backup infrastructures, says John Sing, a senior consultant on business continuity strategy and planning at IBM Corp.
Next, you should test the recoverability of data and apps from the DR site. How often each test is run and how extensive each test should be varies; many firms perform tests of one or several apps, or on selected portions of the backup environment to reduce DR testing costs and avoid the risk of disrupting production apps.
Patrick Honny, departmental information systems manager for the County
| of San Bernardino Auditor/ Controller-Recorder, performs an overall DR test (based on the assumption that the entire primary site has failed) once a year. He also tests the storage portion of his DR plan once a month. "Basically, that's as simple as repointing production servers to the Isilon [Systems Inc.] SANs that are receiving replicated data and pulling up some files," he says.
IBM's Sing, who uses automated testing tools, says he "can no longer afford to take five, 10 or 15 highly paid individuals off their jobs and dedicate them to two days of testing." Automated test tools ensure tests are done consistently and can be repeated over time, which makes them more useful for auditing purposes.
For example, Compuware Corp.'s Hiperstation line of software "records network traffic heading to and from the mainframe," says Mark Schettenhelm, Hiperstation product manager. It can then be used to access a remote site "and it's as if you have a hundred people beating away at that system," he says.
This was first published in May 2008