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The Cloud Services Community is where IT Partners, Born in the Cloud Partners, Service Provider Agents and MSP’s come to learn how to build and grow a thriving Cloud Business. The community provides peer-to-peer guidance, help and advice from the CEO’s of successful Cloud partners and delivers unique opportunities to collaborate on the best Cloud practices.

Top Ten Commandments for Disaster Recovery Planning

Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) invented the concept of disaster recovery, defining and refining what the industry now knows as IT disaster resilience. After more than 30 years of delivering world-class disaster recovery (DR) services, we’ve boiled down what we’ve learned into 10 clear-cut rules for DR that every one of you should live by to ensure that customers’ have fully-recoverable production environments.

Do you follow the 10 laws for disaster recovery when advising customers?

  1.  Don’t confuse backups with data recovery.

Remind customers that having a copy of their data stored offsite is the only first step to data recovery. They also need the procedures in place to actually access the data in case of an emergency.

  1. All gigabytes are not created equal.

Data comes in hierarchies, and mission-critical data needs to be recovered as quickly as possible. Less-critical data can have a less aggressive RTO. With a tiered data protection solution, customers can avoid overcharges for data that don’t require a high level of protection. Make sure you create recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) that specify how quickly their organization must recover from downtime.

  1. Plan to test everything (or expect to fail something).

Customers need to test their end-to-end recovery processes to determine if their plan works, assess staff readiness to manage a DR situation, and resolve problems before they impact an actual recovery effort. Consider everything that might go wrong, come as close as possible to simulating a real-life incident, and have independent reviews and observers.

  1. The only constant is change, so don’t ignore it.

A successful DR plan meticulously audits the change control process. Developing recovery procedures involves writing a detailed plan or run-book defining how to address the loss of the network (databases, servers, bridges/routers, and communications links). These procedures need to follow best practices and be kept up to date.

  1. Backups and disaster recovery are a continuum.

Many DR test failures result from poor data backup processes, which includes missing data for certain critical applications. Data protection is the core of every successful recovery, so advise customers to treat backups as a part of their DR plan (but not as their ONLY DR plan).  

  1. Understand the differences and implications of RPO and RTO.

Sometimes, the impact of RPO and RTO on performance, costs and recoverability is not clearly understood. Asking “How long you are going to be down?” versus “How far back will you recover from?” can drive decisions, if properly understood. If you understand both options, you can help guide this discussion.

  1. Take disaster recovery seriously.

A data disaster can have catastrophic effects on a business. Surveys have shown that after a disaster, many companies go out of business within a couple of years. When your customer approaches you for DR resources, understand that they are looking out for their company’s long term best interests.

  1. Don’t let your DR provider change your production environment.

Production workloads run a customer’s business, but some disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) providers expect them to alter their production environment to make their DR procedures work.  This is not the case with every DR provider. Have a strong network of DR partners to work with.  

  1. Use DR for more than just DR.

A customer’s DRaaS solution is, in effect, a fully-functional copy of production workloads. This means they can use their DRaaS environment for the “non-production” workloads in production, making it an important part of a fully recoverable environment. Code testing, patch testing, data analytics, and user acceptance testing are all potential uses for your customer’s DRaaS environment.

  1. Work with a reliable partner.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Companies like Sungard Availability Services can help you lead customers through proven, best practices procedures to that save time and money, while protecting their data assets. We’ve been doing it for over 30 years for thousands of global customers.

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