Disaster Recovery

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What is Disaster Recovery?

According to Wiki’s definition, “Disaster recovery is the process, policies and procedures related to preparing for recovery or continuation of technology infrastructure critical to an organization after a natural or human-induced disaster.”

Disasters can happen any time on any day and can occur at the most inconvenient time. And because resumption of normalcy would take quite some time, you must implement the best systems practice, company policies and procedures, and strategies in place or run the risk of having the disaster coming before you.

Protect Your Business With A Disaster Recovery Plan

Among companies that experienced a major loss of business data, 43% never reopened, 51% closed within 2 years and only 6% would survive. Many businesses make the mistake of not having a data centre disaster recovery plan or policy because they see a disaster as an unlikely event or that it is an unnecessary expense.

But if your business greatly relies on data, you can’t afford losing them, thus, you should be open to disaster recovery options and collocation to spare you from headaches and financial loss.

Importance of Disaster Recovery Plans 

According to NIST or National Institute of Standards and Technology, implementing a data center disaster recovery plan is always a good idea. Below are the following are reasons why it is necessary to have one.

Efficiency. A computer backup system will help you increase work efficiency by allowing you to recover deleted database and damaged files which cannot be repaired by ordinary computer utilities. Therefore, practices such as regular backups help you achieve uninterrupted work flow caused by computer issues. Remember, DRP is not just for major catastrophes but also for minor issues that can cause major delays in production.

Assurance. Employees and customers need assurance that you are capable of protecting yourself against any type of disaster and that you are ready to handle any kind of problem with a DRP in effect. Because of this, customers remain loyal to you while employees enjoy the assurance of their jobs.

Security. File corruption due to viruses and worms are growing every year, threatening systems everyday and can do damage in many different ways. When a data center is struck by a deadly virus or worm, it can bring a business to a halt and slow down production drastically. However, having a computer backup system can fix any corrupted files and restore them quickly to get you back up and running in no time.

Security also means data confidentiality and security especially for a hospital or call centers. Hosting companies can provide a secure system that follows HIPAA compliant encryption requirements and protect confidentiality of information, a global standard of privacy for Protected Healthcare Information or PHI. This permits users to decrypt data from backup and customize their backup retention schedules.

Savings. Investing in a good DRP lets you save money by preventing future computer problems by being ready at just about any problem that may come your way. This will help you avoid increased spending due to computer repairs, hiring technicians and decreased work production.

Organization. With a backup system, you can organize files and sort through any data easily. For instance, an employee accidentally deletes a file, a data DRP will help you find the original file to replace it quickly. It also gives you the ability to customize the way you like to organize your documents.

Getting hit by a serious disaster, like a fire or earthquake can have far-reaching effects. However, if you have a DRP, this will ensure that your business can be rebuilt quickly from where you left off. On the contrary, not having one means rebuilding your business from scratch. If you can’t afford one, a sample or two can be found online. An excellent source for a comprehensive plan is the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA.

Cushioning The Impact of Disaster Through Disaster Recovery Planning 

According to a survey, it is estimated that many managed IT services companies spend their budgets up to 5% on disaster recovery planning just to secure IT infrastructure and data.

A good plan can be made by considering the following steps below:

>Identify and document core elements of the organization and assigning values to the assets.

>Prioritize and assign each area of work to the appropriate person or manager.

>Define and outline a plan according to the customer’s expectations.

>Communicating the strategy to the whole organization

>Check whether the resources are prepared accordingly or not.

The effectiveness and success of the plan depends on the way it is written, implemented and how one understands it. The plan should also be reviewed periodically and updated in accordance to the needs of the business process. It is common for companies to have white papers on disaster recovery. A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem, are used to educate readers, and help people make active decisions in technical fields.

Creating A Disaster Recovery Plan Template

Creating contingency or disaster recovery plan templates are important for companies. This tool provides a guide, or set of steps to follow in an unforeseen event. Two types of disasters are covered in a plan template.

>Natural disasters – brought about by nature and are unavoidable such as earthquakes, floods, rain, drought and hurricanes. Natural disasters can cause huge amounts of losses to a company such as destruction of equipment, and decreased resources.

>Man-made events – brought about by human failure, these disasters include machine failure, human errors, diminished personnel skills, accidents, theft and sabotage.

Identifying The Best Disaster Recovery Service

In 1980, Pontikes created Comdisco Disaster Recovery Services or Comdisco. Pontikes wanted to open numerous disaster relief centers around the country to aid subscribers with computer and office equipment when their own machines were out of service due to catastrophes. Today, there are thousands of services you can find on the Internet. Below are a few guidelines on how to source out excellent disaster recovery service. Make a checklist of questions to ask such as:

> What is their reputation? Did their technicians go through professional training courses and rigorous tests? They must have a minimum five years of experience on a project. Reliability is very important and there are websites that allow for independent reviews from customers that have utilized the services to make an enhanced choice.

>What is the availability of specialist engineers in cases where you require a short window to get your systems up and running again? Are they available 24/7?

>Is their core business hardware or software? Are they more concerned with selling you additional servers or communications links, instead of formulating a cost-effective, multi-subscriber solution that is compliant with your corporate risk strategy?

What Are The Things To Look For In Choosing Disaster Recovery Services 

An important criteria in seeking providers for consulting services is the technical job expertise accumulated through extensive experience, testing and training. They should have the capability to deliver timely disaster recovery in an emergency. They must be dedicated to the reduction of downtime of your key business systems and must be able to deliver accurate reporting, review the systems regularly, with the facilities and economies of scale and procedures. Sungard is one of the leading data center service providers.

It is important that you deal with a reliable company that you can bank on, someone who cannot only protect your information, but also able to offer you customer support and can walk you through the process of recovering your information if something goes wrong.

Disaster Recovery Software Vs Hardware? 

There are numerous software that allow companies to recover data. Determining the exact disaster recovery solutions that suit you can be challenging. This may involve having a disaster recovery consultant take a look at the computer system, the type of data, and identify potential risks. The appropriate type of system would then be recommended by the consultants. The primary goal is to have a system in place that would allow your business to run seamlessly and ensure business continuity while the restoration process is ongoing.

Examples of data loss that further emphasize the need for a disaster recovery solutions are: tapes that have been tampered with, accidental dropping of a storage device, incorrect hard disk drive formatting, firmware deformity, logical failure, and disturbance of the semiconductor.

Take note that these examples are mostly hardware-related issues. Similar problems could also develop due to software problems. Whatever it is, safeguarding your data is a must, whether on site or remotely. Safeguarding data at a remote facility can be done in a variety of ways. There are two main ways of safeguarding your data:

1. Data Loss Prevention. This is perhaps the surest disaster recovery service. This method emphasizes the creation of a back-up system to prevent future data loss. That means your business has minimal downtime and continuous operation of critical business systems.

2. Creating a warm or hot site away from your existing physical setup or offsite and colocation of equipment. This ensures that even in the event of a physical disaster, your business can be up and running in no time. Data centers can be:

>Cold sites

These are basically empty areas that allow you to set-up your equipment and start operations again, but they do not offer recovery options, just storage.

>Warm sites

Warm sites offer basic communication equipment for plug-in connectivity. Some back-up equipment like servers and storage may also be available to begin work on restoration.

>Hot sites

Hot sites are the duplicate data centers with all the necessary equipment and connectivity that allows you to switch over and go ‘live’ almost instantaneously after a disaster has occurred. With the costs just as high, this option will serve you the best.

For small companies, disaster recovery solutions can be expensive. An emerging data disaster solution which is gaining popularity is Cloud or virtualized computing. The technology has made rapid progress due to its cost effectiveness and the involvement of several IT giants, such as Google, Microsoft with its 5.5 Disaster Recovery, Hewlett Packard, IBM, VMware, Dell Inc, Fujitsu and Zenith. The technology uses ‘the cloud’ for recovery of business information and involves interlinking of hundreds of server networks across the world, to create a cloud or one super computer. The technology enables people around the world to upload and run several applications at the same time. Using the mirror effect, multiple servers are updated whenever the main parent server is updated in real time.

Cloud Computing offers several advantages such as:

>much easier information storage and management

>virtually unlimited space for storage

>the mirror effect concept makes the process of information recovery very easy

>very cost-effective since dedicated servers are not required

>allows uploading and configuration of numerous database management applications

>easily accessible from anywhere, with the help of the Internet

>offers customization and a user-defined experience

Comparing Two Disaster Recovery Solutions – Cloud Computing vs Virtualization

It is important to know the difference between the two. Virtualization is a process that allows companies to do more with less equipment through the utilization of certain software within their servers. One solid example is dividing your hard drive into different partitions for storage purposes. When you create the different partitions, you are actually creating virtual versions, hence the virtualization of your hard drive. There are three main versions of virtualization namely server, storage and network.

Without realizing it, anything you do with the Internet, odds are you cloud compute. From storing information in a web-based program to retrieval at a later date, editing documents with Google docs to cropping and sharing pictures or creating a journal in an online application, you’re cloud computing.

Hardware storage such as CD/DVD are not as flexible as other storage methods, but you can’t deny the fact that there is still a large percentage of computer users that choose CD/DVD as their favorite data storage method. Other people backup their systems using free software or an external hard drive. Another type of data storage is RAID or Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. It is a system of hard disks that also provide large amounts of data storage. Backing up data can also be as simple as using flash drives via Universal Serial Bus connectors to remote servers.

Backing Up Your Database As Part Of Data Disaster Recovery

Part of observing disaster recovery procedure is backing up your database or database management. If all company information on a computer is lost due to a crash on the computer system, be damaged by fire, water or something else, the company could easily fail but having a disaster recovery system in place will be your ticket to a full recovery. Without a service such as this, there would be no means to retrieve important and irreplaceable business and customer information, or customer directory, vendor numbers, invoices, contracts, company financials, sales report and records, taxes, employee records, email and documents, and so much more.

Database management systems, simply put, is the collection of programs and tools that enable users to create and maintain the database. To make it clearer, let us define each term one by one.

Data are the single unit of an information. When the set of data are collected together in a meaningful manner, an information is generated which can benefit humans only. Database is the collection of related data. Database Management System is the collection of programs and tools that enables users to create and maintain the database. Database Management System is a complex set of software programs that controls the organization, storage, management, and retrieval of data in a database and to audit. It also allows for monitoring, managing, and performing key activities, systems management, customer relationship service level management, data storage management, and infrastructure management tasks. Other software products enhance the performance of Java, .NET, SAP, Oracle E-Business, PeopleSoft, and Siebel and the boost the manageability and availability of databases like Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, Sybase, and MySQL.

A Software Engineer is the main contact in the event that a program fails to function properly. His primary job description is to test, debug, and maintain any new software including design, research and developing of new technologies, coding instructions into a computer, testing new software programs, consulting with various clients and writing reports and technical documents.

On the other hand, a system analyst determines a company’s hardware and software needs. He also gathers user information from company employees for analysis if a training program is needed to address the results from the implementation of new and unknown software or hardware functions.

Creating back up database can be done through different systems. Backing up data both from windows and Linux operating system can be done by having a local data center or having online Data Storage disk. Structured Query Language or SQL is the standard language for relational database management systems which is used to communicate with a database such as updating data, or retrieving data from a database. Examples of DBMSs include:

• Oracle

• DB2

• Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise

• Informix

• Microsoft Access

• Microsoft SQL Servers

2000, 2003, 2005, 2007

• Firebird


For document management systems, Sharepoint offers the standard benefits such as shared area for documentation storage and exchange, automatic indexing, document check-in/check-out, automatic versioning of documents

Disaster recovery planning is an essential tool for every business to be able to bounce back after a disaster hits and proceed with business.

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