The Weakest Link in Disaster Recovery
by Alex Bakman - founder & CEO of Ecora Software
While preserving business data and transactions, most backup tapes contain no configuration data. If you have a hot backup site and donít even need to use tapes, you still need to build a system on which to restore the data. Before you can restore the data, you need to reconfigure your IT infrastructure to support it.

Following are the five stages of a typical disaster recovery.

1. Immediate Response: This ensures the safety and evacuation of all employees, notification of appropriate management and continuity personnel, assessment, command center activation, and disaster declaration processes.

To demonstrate how immediate a response can be: On September 11th, the first disaster declaration to reach a backup service came at 9:02 am, 17 minutes after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

2. Environment Restoration: This phase provides alternate space for the people and equipment. Generally people relocate to recovery work areas while computer equipment is sent to a hot site or data recovery center. Operating system software is restored for computer systems, while basic facility preparations are conducted for work areas.

3. Voice and Data Communications Restoration: This phase restores communication to the functional parts of the organization, customers, vendors, and, in some cases, the disabled facility.

4. Functional Restoration: This phase includes restoring systems for computer applications, which can only be done once the infrastructure is properly reconfigured. A critical element is the most recent security settings. You need to ensure that the restored applications do not have any security holes when they are returned to production.

5. Restoration and Synchronization: This final phase includes restoration of data from offsite locations through the use of electronic media and paper. Information that was not backed up may be lost forever. Most often data is protected at different times during the business cycle and synchronizing, validating, and reviewing data from different sources is a critical step in a successful recovery. Once reliable data is established, backlogged transactions that have accumulated during the recovery are processed.

Throughout the recovery process, detailed configuration documentation that contains change information allows the original IT staff and the restoration team to easily see, discuss, and alter any changes in configuration settings that occurred from the last safe settings.

Ideal solution for collecting and maintaining configuration documentation

The answer to the problem of collecting and maintaining detailed configuration documentation is quite simple: automation.

Where the process is being done manually (or with tools that provide parts of the required information), automated tools make this task easier by eliminating the work involved and increasing the speed that the information is collected. They also improve the accuracy of the information collected by superceding the human "error prone" involvement in sorting through and reporting mountains of input data. The information is presented and preserved in a consistent format.

Where the process is not being done, automated configuration reporting and change management tools make it possible to actually accomplish the task for the first time. Automatic scheduling of configuration data collection eliminates the manual part of the process. Automation allows the data to be updated on a regular basis to ensure that the most current information is always available for disaster recovery.

Cost Savings Offset Purchase Price

Unlike an insurance policy where only a "disaster" realizes the benefits, detailed configuration information and documentation can be used on a daily basis to improve the operations of the IT infrastructure; in troubleshooting, security, auditing, and training.

Compliance Reporting is a subset of a larger IT management requirement that is driven by individual industry requirements for securityóboth of the data being managed and of the IT Infrastructure itself.


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