Many "non-traditional" disasters can impact the operations of your organisation. For example, gas leaks and other facilities issues typically don't cause permanent damage but they can easily make the entire building unusable for days or even weeks. Police investigations, fumigations and other unavoidable problems can arise without warning, prohibiting users from accessing data systems and possibly your entire office space.
Companies can recover from the destruction of data and/or data systems with tape backups, replicated copies and other tools. But what happens when a disaster doesn't take out the data centre – or even destroy the data? Non-catastrophic disasters can still cause a significant period of system downtime.
Initially you will need to follow some basic steps of creating any DR plan. Firstly, dedicate an individual or team, dependant on the size of your organisation, who are responsible for ALL aspects of the DR plan. Then continue with the following:
- Get management buy-in
- Document the process
- Investigate the options
- Define your recovery point and time objectives
- Create and document response procedures for different situations
Generally, when non-traditional disasters occur, you must make some tough decisions about how to handle the situation. Can you access data systems remotely or will it be necessary to set up everything in a temporary location?
If you have remote access, you can find employees temporary space to continue working on the original systems. If employees can't access data systems from another location you must make even tougher choices to determine how to proceed.
You must determine how you're going to restore data. If you have replicated data systems in a disaster recovery location you can decide if you want to wait out the disaster or failover to the alternative systems.
Remember that failover will require restoration operations to the original systems when the emergency is over; so short-term outages may be something you just need to muddle through. If the outage will continue for a significant period of time (based on your organisation's needs) then it may be necessary to perform failover and eventual restoration operations to get back up and running.
If you don't have replication or other mirroring tools, you must either wait out the problem or restore from tape and/or other backups. In this case, you've hopefully been storing tape backups off-site (even if that means you've simply taken them home with you). If not, a non-traditional emergency could create a situation that will take systems offline for the entire duration of the outage, regardless of the length of the problem.
If you do have backup tapes, you can restore the tapes to temporary servers in another location to get back to business quickly. Keep in mind that this solution also means you'll need to perform the same operation in reverse with the new tapes you make from the temporary systems in order to get back in action in your original environment.
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