Can your data center withstand another derecho?

 With government and IT contractors moving to the cloud and storing information in data centers, violent storms such as this past weekend’s 80-mile-an-hour weather pattern known as a derecho can cause severe and sometimes prolonged interruptions.

While most organizations are able to use their secondary data centers or co-located backups at an external facility, it is critical to strategically plan and assess what are the vulnerabilities and threats that may pose catastrophic risk that would compromise your data center functionality and, most importantly, affect users who depend on this data for real-time operations.

In order to develop a logical and easy to implement disaster recovery plan, you should begin by assessing the business impact a business interruption might have not only on direct users, but also on stakeholders in and outside your enterprise. This way, you can prioritize and score the risk assessment factors associated with each.

A five-point plan for strategic disaster recovery can help you capture everything that you need to consider quickly and efficiently.

Communications An effective disaster recovery plan is one that is understood and does not require a team of experts to interpret. Remember that everyone in your organization must be ready and able to act upon it in moment of crisis.

Business Process A proficient disaster recovery plan anticipates different levels of risks inside and outside the enterprise and the inter-dependencies between people, technology, and external conditions beyond normal operational control. You must be able to anticipate the worst case scenarios and what is likely to happen when fail-safe procedures are compromised.

Technology Risks Remember that the restoring data only works if your original backup is actually validated and constantly checked for errors. It is entirely possible to have crupper backups that further perpetuate disaster recovery from trying to pull data from older versions, legacy-based systems, or simply version-control issues that can resurface only during restoration.

People Relocation Be prepared to enable your staff to physically relocate quickly and efficiently to an alternate facility to ramp up operations in times of emergency, and account for external conditions such as weather, transportation, and power outages.

Keep It Simple Finally, remember that if your plan is longer than several pages, it is likely to be misinterpreted by someone, hence, making your data center vulnerable to information security and operational risks that cannot be predicted.

About the Author

Tony Crescenzo is the chief operating officer at IntelliDyne LLC.

About the Author

Tony Crescenzo is the CEO of IntelliDyne LLC.

Reader Comments

Thu, Jul 5, 2012 Kiersten Todt Coon Arlington, VA

In addition to having a plan, organizations benefit from conducting tabletop exercises to practice those plans before they actually need them.

Thu, Jul 5, 2012 Mark Fleshman DC

I agree Connie. I wish more government agencies would follow his advice. Complicated, cumbersome, convoluted and complex is not the way to go when disaster strikes. You need to move quickly and decisively and more often than not, the staff on duty aren't very senior when the stuff hits the fan. Thanks for the clear direction Tony.

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 Connie Gorman Germantown, Maryland

This is good advice that government IT folks should embrace. too often gov agencies plans are too complex and tony Crescenzo's point about keeping it simple and effective is key to efficient implementation. The question about how 911 centers and the metro not functioning shed doubt on the overall preparedness of our region for major calamities.

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