Strive for IT Excellence

10 Steps for Coping With An IT Disaster

Having a disaster recovery (DR) plan is critical to guide your actions when disaster strikes, but recovering takes more than simply grabbing the nearest copy of the DR document and executing its steps. Here are the 10 things you need to do to get through your IT disaster.

  1. Declare a disaster. As part of your DR planning, you should have identified managers who will assess the situation and determine that invoking the DR plan is necessary.
  1. Send out notifications to all necessary parties. Everyone who's impacted by the disaster needs to be informed of the situation. This goes beyond the tech teams who will fix the problem to also notifying the business users, your external partners, and potentially your legal and insurance contacts.
  1. Assess the situation. Not all disaster situations require executing the full DR plan to get operations back on track. Before any recovery procedures are performed, the team should review the status of all systems and determine the scope of the necessary recovery procedures.
  1. Execute your DR plan. Make sure everybody on the team is working from the latest version of the DR plan. Focus first on getting the critical networks and critical business applications up and running. Follow your plan carefully and make sure you've got good communication lines for sharing updates and working out issues.
  1. Validate the system and turn it over to the business. After doing a technical checkout of the recovered applications, turn the systems back over to the business. Make sure they're aware of any differences in procedures or capabilities when using applications at the DR site.
  1. Monitor status and support users. Business users may need to access the systems through unfamiliar processes when the systems are running in recovery mode, and they may encounter issues such as limited functionality and transactions that weren't fully saved when the disaster occurred. Be prepared with help desk and other support to get all users working and business data consistent.
  1. Determine that the disaster is over. Have a strategy for determining that the disaster is over and that you can start falling back to your primary site. This decision should be made by senior management, similar to how the decision to invoke the DR plan was made.
  1. Execute steps to fall back to the primary site. Restarting services and applications at the primary site can be as complex as the transition to the DR site was. Many of the same steps for migrating data, applications, and users will need to be followed; your DR plan should provide full details of this process. All systems need to be thoroughly tested before business operations resume. Unless you plan to run both sites in parallel for some time, the process should also include steps for safely shutting down the DR site.
  1. Monitor status and support users. Plan to have extra support coverage and keep a close eye on the systems for a day or two following the resumption of normal services.
  1. Assess your DR response and update the DR plan. No matter how detailed and comprehensive your DR plan is, reality never matches expectations. Schedule a review with the team to identify shortcomings and issues with the DR plan and make sure it's updated to reflect problems, solutions, and system configurations you encountered while resolving the current crisis.

dcVAST can help any organization weather an IT disaster. We offer managed NetBackup and Disaster Recovery as a Service, along with a range of infrastructure and storage management technologies, to help you ensure that your systems are robust, protected, and recoverable. Contact us to learn more about how smart disaster recovery planning can keep your business operational.