Tag Archives: DR

Disaster Recovery is lacking in Virtualised Environments

Organisations utilising virtualisation seem to be placing themselves at greater risk of substantial data loss even though the virtual technology they are deploying improves efficiencies and reduces the cost of disaster recovery.

A recent survey conducted by Applied Research, on the state of backup and recovery capabilities in virtual environments, showed that nearly half of enterprise data stored on virtual platforms is rarely backed up and that over 60 percent of virtualised servers are not incorporated into disaster recovery plans. Considering disaster recovery now comprises of more than a quarter of annual IT budgets this is a worrying sign.

As the market highlights there is certainly no shortage of disaster recovery solutions designed to protect virtual environments. The fact of the matter is that virtualisation actually makes recovery of servers and infrastructures that much easier by†increasing performance and flexibility. In todayís world we are seeing organisations host infrastructures in the cloud, so it is strange why there is still this inability or unwillingness to ensure successful backup of virtual environments. As many solution providers demonstrate the cloud provides a much more flexible backup and disaster recovery framework then traditional solutions and often at lower prices.

Reliability has often been an area of concern for organisations looking to implement virtual environments especially with mission critical systems and data. The fact of the matter is that virtual environments performance and resilience is excellent, although however good a solution is one still canít stress the importance of data backup and disaster recovery. The variety and expertise of backup and recovery providersí worldwide means no data or systems should ever be excluded. Such features as CDP and Ďhotí database backups mean that not only recovery time objectives are met but recovery point objectives are achieved.

Data is the lifeblood of any organisation, so every measure should be taken to protect it. Virtual infrastructures are playing an increasingly vital role in enterprise data infrastructure, but to leave it out of the DR equation is surely a step too far.

The Risks of Failing to Perform Disaster Recovery Tests

The creation and testing of a disaster recovery plan is one of the key elements of business continuity management. Traditionally business continuity and disaster recovery (DR) planning have always been separated between the business and the IT department.

It has long been recognised that this Ďdivideí creates more problems than it solves, after all most businesses could not continue to operate successfully if their IT services were unavailable for a period of time. Depending on the nature of your business this may well range from a few hours to several days.

Talking from experience as the UKís Leading Online Backup & Disaster Recovery Provider a disaster recovery plan should interface with the overall business continuity management plan, be clear and concise, focus on the key activities required to recover the critical IT services, be tested reviewed and updated on a regular basis, have an owner, whilst enabling the recovery objectives to be met.

Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) do differ for organisations but there are common aims that apply to all. The two key elements which many organisations adhere to are how long can the business continue to function without the critical IT services and how quickly can all systems be recovered from the time DR is invoked.

With the economic climate as it is today itís no surprise to hear that IT departments are often asked to do more with less. Although this can result in DR testing falling by the wayside a recent survey actually shows that DR testing is on the up as organisations understand the importance of data to operations. It was shown that 35% of organisations worldwide with a DR plan do not test it more than once a year and although that number is actually a 12% improvement from 2008, it is still poor.

A lack of IT staff time was the top reason given for not testing more, with 48% pointing to that. Disruption to employees, budget restraints, and disruption to customers were all mentioned by at least 40% of respondents.

The report also indicates that 59% of respondents said they test disaster recovery plans regularly but 28% test once a year or less. Most of the blame for not testing went to lack of a DR site, inadequate staffing and money. The introduction of Virtualised DR environments should eliminate the restriction of DR testing.†Please visit the following link†to find out more about†Virtual Disaster Recovery and how full system restores can be attained without disruption to live environments.

Statistics aside it is best practice to conduct DR testing to ensure business continuity whilst identifying deficiencies that need to be addressed. DR plan testing also helps evaluate the ability of the IT staff to implement the plan quickly and effectively. Each IT contingency plan element should be tested to confirm the accuracy of individual recovery procedures and the overall effectiveness of the plan.

The following areas to be covered in a DR test should include:
Full System Recovery from the backup media to an alternate platform
Coordination among recovery teams
Internal and external connectivity
System performance using alternate equipment
Restoration of normal operations
Notification procedures

Experts advise to test DR plans at all costs despite the hardships. Independent backup consultants suggest that companies do a large scale disaster recovery test once a year, with smaller, alternating tests throughout the rest of the year. While experts acknowledge that testing isn’t easy and does involve resource, refusing to test is putting an entire organisation at risk.

So if you havenít scheduled a full Disaster Recovery test book one today to ensure your organisation can resume operations should disaster strike.

Backup is Nothing Without Disaster Recovery Testing

Letís assume for a moment that your business is a step ahead of many companies out there Ė you have already thought about and implemented a backup and recovery strategy. This may have included implementing a simple backup strategy, or may be more wide ranging by including other areas such as disaster recovery, workforce continuity, business resumption and contingency planning.

During a recent study by Gartner (The Broken State of Backup by Dave Russell), there were some quite terrifying statistics highlighting one key fact Ė a backup and recovery strategy is only worth having if it is stress tested regularly.In fact, Gartner went so far as saying that exercising Disaster Recovery Plans is the most critical aspect of any business’s DR plans (after Day One implementation).

Here are the statistics (based on a study of how successful the last recovery exercise was):

28% of all recovery tests were fully successful (all service levels were met)

This figure is staggeringly low. Over 70% of all business who have spent time, money and resource on implementing a backup and recovery strategy are happy to admit in a survey that their recovery testing failed.

How badly did the recovery tests go? Gartnerís study drilled down even further:

11% of businesses who performed a recovery test admitted that the exercise was CANCELLED, because problems could not be resolved.

Incredibly, 1 in 10 recovery tests according to Gartner, are a complete failure. Or thinking about it another way, 1 in 10 businesses who have invested valuable budget in a recovery plan are completely wasting their money.

50% of businesses said that the recovery exercise encountered problems.

Exactly half of all companies would be in a very dire situation if they experienced real life data loss. One also thinks whether these businesses are meeting any compliance obligations they may have. It must be doubtful.

The balance of 11% were not sure how the exercise went. My guess would be not very well, and not knowing implies a false sense of security.

The message is simple. Once you have implemented your backup strategy – whether using traditional tape or an online backup service† – †it is essential to perform regular disaster recovery tests to ensure that every single server can be recovered within your RTO (Recovery Time Objective).

The importance of Disaster Recovery Testing

Since 2005 Backup Technology have performed tens of thousands of live restores and test restores for our Online Backup customers, itís a critical part of what we do and itís important for us to demonstrate the speed and reliability of our recovery process on a regular basis.

For the last year we have also been working with our customers to enable them to carry out complete Disaster Recovery Tests. The key difference is that rather than recovering 3 or 4 key servers, we are able to go much further and restore every server in the network to different hardware to ensure that in a Disaster situation our customers would be able to function with the minimum disruption to their business.

Previously this was never possible as clients did not have the spare hardware onsite to allow them to recover dozens of servers, and they also didnít have the time to set aside a week to perform the testing.
To address this we developed a method of recovery which is revolutionary as we provide the hardware and also take care of all of the work, so that our customers have to do is log in via a secure VPN to check that everything is fully recovered.

To date we have performed successful recoveries with networks of over 60 servers including domain controllers, multiple operating systems, email servers, database servers and file servers. Technically it can be very challenging trying to recover complex configurations of things like clustered Exchange, but it is hugely rewarding to log in with a customer and go through server by server confirming successful recoveries.

The key benefit for us as a company is that having completed the Disaster Recovery test our clients know that they can fully recover their operations and they have a realistic expectation of the recovery times for each server. Armed with this information it makes a real life DR a far more straightforward process as the panic element is removed as the key procedures that each user on site has to follow is documented and rehashed on at least an annual basis.

For more information on our Disaster Recovery services please visit: http://www.backup-technology.com/disaster-recovery/

The importance of online data backup plans and DR solutions

Surveys in the past have pointed out to the fact that companies lack a clear direction and strategies when it comes to a backup and disaster recovery plan. In fact, a majority of firms are also not able to gauge the infrastructure roadmap and budget for data recovery. As a result, many of them end up facing data loss at some point, causing a great setback to their business.

Losing data, owing often to sheer negligence, can undo years of hard work and efforts of many people. The scenario can get highly debilitating to a budding business. It can result in temporary or in the worst case scenario, permanent closure.

As it is rightly said, prevention is better than cure! This very philosophy drives online data backup plans and disaster recovery solutions. Thanks to these effective solutions, critical data lost can be retrieved without any trouble most of the times, albeit the ease of retrieval process may vary on case to case basis.

Look for a leading backup and disaster recovery service provider who can protect large amounts of data. The data may comprise of millions of files, but an experienced data backup provider can secure all of them.

Role of Records Management in Business Continuity and DR

The definition of records management according to the UKís Record Management Society is

ďa process by which a company manages all elements of record whether externally or internally generated in any format or media type, from their inception/receipt, all the way to their disposalĒ

Thanks to cutting-edge technology, companies can develop a system to tackle the problems of data loss. Nowadays invariably all companies transmit data electronically. Therefore a system failure can spell doom.

Many organisations are under legal obligation to maintain the records for a specific period depending on various factors. For example, financial institutions are bound by law to keep the records of mortgage loan files for 10 after years after the loan has been repaid. Medical records are expected to be retained live till the patient is alive. Many Government records are required to be kept for 50 years.

Failure to maintain the records as required under the law can cause heavy damage to the reputation of an institution. Hence Records Management plays a crucial role in ensuring business continuity.

Online data backup can give peace of mind in this instance, knowing that all data can be restored to new hardware in a matter of minutes.

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