Developing a Disaster Recovery Plan and Site

It’s a new year and it is time to start working on those resolutions. I am terrible about completing mine, I start off great but by mid-February they sort of drop off the radar; unless, I have a plan. The Division’s Applied Research and Technical Services group has been working closely with several clients in developing their Disaster Recovery (DR) plan and site. If one of your organization’s New Year’s resolutions is to establish a DR site, here is information about developing your DR plan and how to get started with building a DR site.

What is a Disaster Recovery site?

Disaster Recovery is the policies and procedures that enable recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructures and systems following a disaster and where and how those vital systems and data are maintained. DR is basically an insurance policy based on the probability a disaster will occur.

A DR site is the physical location of the data, systems, etc., your organization needs to be functional.

How do I get started?

Many of the decisions you will need to make when developing a DR plan and setting up a DR site begin with answering the following questions:

  • What data/systems are essential to your organization?
  • What can your organization live without? (data? applications? both?)
  • If a disaster were to occur, how long after will the organization need to be up and running?
  • How many users will need access? How will they access the DR site?

Here are a few questions to help your organization get started in determining your DR needs:

  • What constitutes a “disaster” (power outage, building unavailable, natural disaster)? Decide what is important in your business scenario to back up to a DR site?
  • What type of site do you need (hot – available within minutes of a disaster, warm – available within hours of a disaster, cold – available within a few hours but may require updated data or applications)?
  • How often will the DR site be backed up?
  • Where will the DR site be located/hosted?
  • Who will be responsible for updating and maintaining the DR site (in-house or contractor)?
  • When will testing take place to make sure the DR site can be functional and all data/applications will run correctly if/when you need them?
  • What is your budget for DR site development and maintenance?

Once these topics have been thoroughly explored you can begin outlining your technical specifications, which include:

  • How many servers will be used?
  • What type of servers will be used?
  • How often will data replication take place?

As you become more involved with the DR process you will develop more questions specific to your organization. There is no right or wrong answer, only what is needed by your organization to recover from a disaster. The key is to start the conversation and begin determining your DR needs so you can develop your DR plan, site, and maintenance strategy. Hopefully before New Years 2016!

Dawn Bot
The Division of Innovation and Applied Research provides analytical, technical, and research services for the region's federal agencies, state agencies, county and local governments, non-profit organizations, and private sector companies. Each of our units’ skills complement one another and are often combined to provide a comprehensive solution for our clients.