How To Win the War on Disaster Recovery!

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Disaster Recovery is one of the most dull and least important issues in IT, or so I am told (reading between the lines).

Even in large, multi-billion dollar organizations, disaster recovery and business continuity management is given less than 2% of the annual budget. It’s as if 9/11 never happened, which we all know, it did. I was thinking about why this might be the case and did some research by talking to CIOs and other business leaders.

DR is boring, I heard. DR is a technical domain that doesn’t seem to hold much kudos, and I think that it’s because disasters rarely happen. Frankly, most business people are ignorant of it, until a catastrophe bites them on the ass. So the value of DR is resigned to an insurance policy, and who keeps their insurance policy on the wall at home? DR doesn’t move the business forward, but it does prevent it from going backwards (way backwards!) It is therefore a real hard sell, both to business people and IT people who have to deliver it.

So I’ve come up with stratagems to win this war on ignorance:

Make a big deal of it – give senior execs a reason to tell their buddies about it. Compare your capability with your competition and tell your boss about how you fair

Make sure it’s a feature of the contracting process – your infrastructure should have the same DR capabilities across the whole estate, whether it is self-owned or in your ‘cloud’

Regularly switch between sites – don’t have your ‘homesite’ and ‘DR site’. Let both sites be partners and switch between them regularly. If you do this then you are continually proving your DR capability and you’re also embedding the practice

Make sure your deployment processes cover all your sites – don’t be in a position where you have to continually play catch-up at other sites, or pay the price if you have a disaster in the latency period

Ensure DR is a facet of Non-Functional Requirements – whenever a change to a system is specified, make sure it always contains requirements for DR. I am always surprised at how these are ignored!

Pay well for DR professionals – they shouldn’t be second-class citizens. Attract the best people to these roles and make sure everyone knows that you recruit great people into them

Test your capability regularly – you don’t need to perform a full test, which is very business disruptive. Break up the tests if you have to, but you will need to test it end-to-end at some point, perhaps once a year. Getting into the habit is a sure-fire way of maturing the capability

Work with the Business – DR in isolation isn’t effective unless the Business has a continuity plan that sits on top of it. Work with the Business by ensuring they understand the risk and importance of having a solid plan that comes into effect in the event of a disaster

and best of all…

Show how DR can be a differentiator – Having a solid DR capability can be a major plus if you’re a service company. DR can be on the top-bill of features in your company literature. Your clients are at risk if you don’t have DR nailed, and it’s very likely they know that. Work with your marketers to bring this onto their agenda. If you get them hooked, your 2% investment may go to 10% or more!

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