Key elements of disaster recovery and business continuity planning

Key elements of disaster recovery and business continuity planning

Date: Sep 08, 2009

Andre Gold discusses the key aspects of developing a successful business continuity and disaster recovery plan, including location, technology, crisis management and communications. The text transcript of Gold's comments is included below.

So we have gone out there and we have all of this great data as it relates to what is most important to the firm, how much is it going to cost the firm. As we said earlier, eventually, things will fail, and when they fail, we will have to restore those respected services. So now let's look at a couple of key aspects of recovery. Within disaster recovery one of the first things you are going to want to quickly identity is a location. Where are you going to restore the technology, the people, the processes; all of the things that make up your respected organization?

Now when you are looking at locations, there are fundamentally three types of locations that you can partake in. One can be a cold site. A cold site is a location in which you have no infrastructure, no assets and you are going to have to bring all that to the table in the event and in the time of recovery. You also have a warm site, a site that has some of your infrastructure; it can be readily made available in the event that it is needed for a disaster. And then the last site is a hot site. A site that has your infrastructure in place; it is already running transactions and supporting the business processes from the day. So as I mentioned you have hot sites, you have warm sites and you have cold sites. I am from Texas, which is a hot state, and that just so happens to be my preference when I look at locations. Now there is a cost associated with that and you have to be mindful and you have to be mindful of the cost, but considering that most companies already have multiple data centers, it is very plausible to actually leverage one of your alternate data centers as potentially a hot site location.

One of the other key aspects of recovery is technology as well as third-party management. When you think about purchasing software these days, historically they would send you a CD or a DVD with the content on it. These days, what they typically do is send you an email that says, "Thank you for your business, and oh by the way go to this URL to download the software." In the event of a disaster, you need to make sure you have a repository that is readily available and that has that key software and supporting applications if an event does arise. The third thing we have to do is be mindful of our third-party relationships. Of course over the last decade or so, outsourcing became vogue again, so it is highly probable that your organization leverages somebody else to do or support aspects of business fulfillment. You need to make sure you have good relationships, established relationships, probably contracts that have strong SLAs embedded in them, because in the event of a disaster, you actually really are going to need and be dependent upon that third party to help the restoration of your business.

Another key element of disaster recovery is crisis management and communications. Crisis management is really going to drive the overall recovery process; it's going to be the method by which you communicate to your constituents -- whether or not they are integral employees, external stakeholders -- the status of restoration. It is also going to be the event that helps you engage local authorities, federal and perhaps even your state agencies as well. And then the last key element that we are going to discuss as it relates to the context of recovery is really testing -- you need to practice and practice often. Now, there are several different ways you can practice. One can be doing table-top exercises, which are very scenario-based type of exercises, and that are very valuable. But at the end of the day, I would like to ensure that my organization is ready, equipped and capable of restoring the business in the event that a disaster does occur, and I think the only true way you get there is by going through and doing live walkthroughs. One other thing that comes to mind is whether or not you have a good succession plan. Meaning, if Joe the database administrator is not available, who is going to restore the content? If your chief executive office is not available, who is going to provide leadership within the firm? All these types of things will come out in practice.

And then the last key element that we are going to discuss as it relates to the context of recovery is really testing -- you need to practice and practice often. Now, there are several different ways you can practice. One can be doing table-top exercises, which are very scenario-based type of exercises, and that are very valuable. But at the end of the day, I would like to ensure that my organization is ready, equipped and capable of restoring the business in the event that a disaster does occur, and I think the only true way you get there is by going through and doing live walkthroughs. One other thing that comes to mind is whether or not you have a good succession plan. Meaning, if Joe the database administrator is not available, who is going to restore the content? If your chief executive office is not available, who is going to provide leadership within the firm? All these types of things will come out in practice. 


Bussiness Continuity and Disaster Recovery Video Series table of contents:

Disaster recovery and business continuity planning basics
Availability, business continuity and disaster recovery
Defining internal risk management policies
Elements of disaster recovery and business continuity planning
Disaster recovery and business continuity planning problems
Preventing business continuity, disaster recovery problems

More on disaster recovery: 

Read about virtualization strategies for disaster recovery
Discover hot trends in business continuity and disaster recovery


Read the full text transcript from this video below. Please note the full transcript is for reference only and may include limited inaccuracies. To suggest a transcript correction, contact editor@searchsecurity.com.   

Key elements of disaster recovery and business continuity planning

Andre Gold: So we've gone out there and we have all this great data as it relates to
what's most important to the firm, how much it's going to cost the firm, if this process
is down in everything else. Now as we said earlier, eventually things will fail and
when they fail we will inevitably have to restore those respective services.

So now let's look at a couple of key aspects of recovery. Within disaster recovery
one of the first things you are going to want to quickly identify is a location.
Where are you going to restore this technology, the people, the processes,
all the things that make up your respective organization.

Now when you are looking at locations there are fundamentally
three types of locations that you can partake in. One can be a cold site.
A cold site is a location in which you have no infrastructure, no assets and
you're going to have to bring all of that to the table, in the event and at the time of recovery.
You also have a warm site. A site that has some of your infrastructure, that can readily made
available in the event it's needed for disaster. And then the last site is a hot site.
A site that has your infrastructure in place, it's already running
probably transactions and supporting your business processes from the day.

So as I mentioned you have hot sites, you have warm sites,
and you have cold sites. I'm from Texas and which is a hot state
and that just so happens to be my preference when I look at locations.
Now there is a cost associated with that and you have to
be mindful of the cost, but considering most companies already
today have multiple data centers it is very plausible to actually
leverage one of your alternate data centers as potentially a hot site location.

One of the other key aspects of recovery is technology as well as third party management.
When you think about purchasing software these days, historically
they would send you a CD or a DVD with the content on it and everything else.
These days what they typically do is send you an email that says thank you
for your business and oh by the way go to this URL to download the software.
In the event of a disaster you need to make sure that you have a repository that's
readily available that has that key software and supporting applications
if the event does arise.

The third thing that we have to do it be mindful of our third party relationships.
Of course over the last decade or so outsourcing became vogue again and so it is highly
probable that your organization leverages somebody else to do our support
aspects of this as a filament but you need to make sure you have good relationships,
established relationships, probably contracts that have strong SLA’s embedded within
them because in the event of a disaster you're actually going to really need and be
dependent upon that third party to help with the restoration of your business.

Another key element when you start thinking about disaster recovery is crisis management
and communications. Crisis management is really going to drive the overall recovery
process, it's going to be the method by which you communicate to your constituents,
whether or not if they are internal employees, external stakeholders, the status of
restorations. It's also going to be the event that helps you engage maybe
local authorities, federal, and perhaps even your state agencies as well.

And then the last key element we will discuss as it relates to the context of recovery
is really testing. You need to practice and practice often. Now there's a couple of different
ways in which you can practice. One could be doing table top exercises, which are very
scenario based type of exercises and that's all very valuable but at the end of the day
I would like to ensure that my organization is ready, is equipped and is capable of
restoring the business in the event that a disaster does occur.  

I think the only true way you get there is actually by going through and doing live walk-throughs.
One of the things that will come to mind is whether or not you have a good succession plan,
meaning if Joe the database administer isn't available who's going to restore the content.
If your chief executive officer, perhaps, isn't available who's going to provide the leadership
within the firm. All of these types of things will come out in practice.

More on Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning

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