When we’re talking about DR, having a plan isn’t quite enough. If you’ve done your homework, you have a plan that will restore mission critical services in a timeframe that meets the requirements of your business. That’s a good start.
Now, how do you know you can actually meet that goal? Are you 100% confident that you haven’t overlooked something in your planning? And does the failover process actually work the way you’ve envisioned it?
Like just about everything else in this field, the only way to complete know if something will work is to test it. So, how does one go about testing the plan?
The best method is to plan a test fail over and actually operate production systems out of your DR location. However, this changes the scope of your failover design. If you start building a plan from common hyperbolic premise that a meteor hit your primary location, then you’ve probably developed a plan that isn’t at all concerned about how to return services to that location, figuring that you can solve that problem when and if the time comes.
If you want to move production systems to a DR site and then back to their primary location, however, you need a failover design and mechanism that will allow you to do just that. Once you have that, take a low(er) impact time and test your plan. Take detailed notes, and store your DR failover plan in a location that is not dependent on the services your plan protects.
Then, when the disaster strikes, you can be completely confident that you can restore services in an appropriate time frame.
Oh, and if you don’t have a DR plan? It’s well past time to build one.
Shane Skriletz, PEI