Small and Medium Sized Businesses Need DR plans too!
As a small or medium sized business, what do you think about when you hear the words "Disaster Recovery"? Does just the thought of it make you nervous? Do you think it's something that only large companies need to worry about? Maybe you feel like a disaster won't happen to you… or perhaps you are completely prepared for any that may come your way.
The truth is, all companies need a plan when it comes to business continuity and planning for a disaster. Each organization has specific needs, and no two organizations needs are the same. Great thought must be put into thinking about what your specific needs are, both from an IT perspective as well as determining what level of facilities are required to keep your business moving. Building an appropriate Recovery Time Objective and a reasonable Recovery Point Objective are also important points to consider. Perhaps your business relies heavily on warehouse space or machinery to operate. How long will it take to recover or repair these types of assets in comparison to your IT systems? In this case, IT recovery may become secondary. In contrast, perhaps your business relies heavily on your IT infrastructure to operate, and nothing can be accomplished until these systems are back on line. In this example, you may be able to afford little or no downtime of critical systems.
In addition to natural disasters, there are many other circumstances in which you may need to declare a disaster. Power outages that can extend for a long period of time, local or wide spread network outages, and even viruses or cyber-attacks can be cause to declare a disaster.
Let me share a real world example with you. As I sat at my desk one morning, I thought it was someone's idea of a joke when one of my administrators came to me and said, "There is water all over the computer room, and it's dripping on top of the Oracle servers". When I spun around in my chair, the look on her face told me this was not a joke. After a mad rush to get the facilities group alerted, it was determined that a clogged drain in the air conditioner was causing water to leak down through the ceiling. Unfortunately, the cluster of servers that were right under this newly created water fall was the Oracle cluster, which housed not only most mission critical databases, but the Oracle Financial system as well. With some creativity, a few sheets of plastic, and more super absorbent cloths than I care to think about, the system was safe until the leak was controlled. What could have truly been a disaster, was narrowly avoided by someone who just happened to walk in the computer room that morning. This was not due to some earthquake, flood, snowstorm, or tornado, but a small drain that was clogged.
So, I leave you with a few thoughts and some questions to ask yourself. Do you have a Disaster Recovery Plan? Is it adequate? Have you considered what types of disasters you may encounter? Do you discuss these things with your team and test your plan on a regular basis? Remember, just because you put something on paper doesn't mean that it will work without testing, updating, and some fine tuning.
What did I learn from my experience? There is no limit to what may happen in your environment that could lead to a disaster. Always be prepared, test your plan, and be ready to implement it if the need arises. Oh, and one final thing. Make sure you have the cell phone number of a good facilities guy at your fingertips!