Disaster Recovery Preparation: Does It Matter?

AIS-Steve-WallaceIn 2011 the San Diego region (along with parts of Orange County, Arizona, and Baja) suffered a major power outage that lasted 12 hours and impacted millions of businesses.
For many, SDG&E’s outage was a wake-up call for disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) preparedness.
When evaluating your options for DR/BC services, here are a few fundamental questions to ask your data center provider:
Is Disaster Recovery Designed In?
There are minimum thresholds for DR preparedness such as geographic diversity and private network connectivity:

  • Does the provider own and operate their inter-site network?
  • Does the network have adequate capacity and is it redundantly routed?
  • Is the Internet the only option for data transmission?
  • Are there enough qualified personnel on-site to provide “remote hands”?

Where – and How Current – Is My Company’s Data?
A key task in DR planning is identifying your most critical data: how much, where located, and what’s needed to recover quickly:

  • Does the DR database need to be synchronized with the primary site?
  • How many transactions may be missed before business is impacted?
  • How will customers & users access applications in a failure scenario?
  • How will you “fail back” to the primary site without corrupting the data?

Your data center provider should be able to explain where your data will reside as well as provide options for replicating and accessing the data after an incident.
Can You Meet Post-Disaster Service Demand?
In other words, “How can I be sure that I’ll get all the resources we’ll need when it is time to recover?”

  • Has the provider planned for physical & data traffic congestion?
  • Is there enough on-site fuel for continued use of backup generators?
  • Is there physical and logical redundancy between the primary and DR sites?
  • If the DR site becomes the active site, can the provider handle sharply increased demand for resources (e.g., bandwidth, remote hands, virtual machines)?

An Ounce of Prevention…
The questions above merely scratch the surface of DR/BC preparedness.
With something as critical as continued availability of your company’s applications and data, it is essential to choose your data center provider wisely.
About the Author
Steve Wallace, CTO, is a seasoned technologist with 25 years of hands-on experience in data security, network operations, and telecommunications. He has provided senior technical leadership for early-stage companies in the ISP, managed hosting, and data center services industries. He has also held both military and civilian positions in communications, network operations, and data security.
At AIS Mr. Wallace is responsible for managing and growing the engineering team and AIS’ high availability service infrastructure. He has been instrumental in the development of the virtual private data center / IaaS cloud services product lines and owns the AIS strategic services roadmap.