Trying to recover from a disaster without a documented disaster recovery processes is difficult, if not impossible. Thus, you should establish clear disaster recovery processes to minimize the effort and time required to recover from a disaster. Testing the plans is also important.
- Response. When you learn about an incident, the first step is to determine whether it requires a disaster recovery procedure. Timeliness is important because if a recovery is required, you need to begin recovery procedures as soon as possible. Monitoring and alerting play a big part in enabling organizations to respond to disasters faster.
- Personnel. In many organizations, there is a team dedicated to disaster recovery planning, testing and implementation. They maintain the processes and documentation. In a disaster recovery scenario, the disaster recovery team should be contacted first so they can begin communicating to the required teams. In a real disaster, communicating with everybody will be difficult and, in some cases, not possible. Sometimes, companies use communication services or software to facilitate emergency company-wide communications or mass communications with personnel involved in the disaster recovery operation.
- Communications. There are two primary forms of communication that occur during a disaster recovery operation, as well as a third form of communication that is sometimes required:
- Communications with the recovery personnel. In many disaster scenarios, email is down, phones are down, and instant messaging services are down. If the disaster hasn’t taken out cell service, you can rely on communications with smart phones (SMS messages, phone calls).
- Communications with the management team and the business. As the recovery operation begins, the disaster recovery team must stay in regular contact with the business and the management team. The business and management team need to understand the severity of the disaster and the approximate time to recover. As things progress, they must be updated regularly.
- Communications with the public. In some cases, a company experiencing a large-scale disaster must communicate with the public, for example, a service provider, a publicly traded company, or a provider of services to consumers. At a minimum, the communication must indicate the severity of the incident, when service is expected to resume, and any actions consumers need to take.
- Assessment. During the response phase, the teams verified that recovery procedures had to be initiated. In the assessment phase, the teams dive deeper to look at the specific technologies and services to find out details of the disaster. For example, if during the response phase, the team found email to be completely down, then they might check to find out if other technologies are impacted along with email.
- Restoration. During the restoration phase, the team performs the recovery operations to bring all services back to their normal state. In many situations, this means failing over to a secondary data center. In others, it might mean recovering from backups. After a successful failover to a secondary data center, it is common to start planning the failback to the primary data center once it is ready. For example, if the primary data center flooded, you would recover to the second data center, recover from the flood, then fail back to the primary data center.
- Training and awareness. To maximize the effectiveness of your disaster recovery procedures, you need to have a training and awareness campaign. Sometimes, technical teams will gain disaster recovery knowledge while attending training classes or conferences for their technology. But they also need training about your organization’s disaster recovery procedures and policies. Performing routine tests of your disaster recovery plans can be part of such training.
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