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Disaster recovery planning guide for the midmarket

The disaster recovery process must be continually managed -- especially at midmarket companies. Get all the latest news, tips and resources related to disaster recovery planning in this IT Management Guide.

Disaster recovery (DR) is not about recovering from a disaster, but planning for one, as business continuity is crucial. This involves up-to-date technology and well-informed IT staff members (in-house or outsourced) who will implement several phases of your disaster recovery plan. Your business must be up and running at all times. In the midmarket arena, this is even more crucial, as resources and budgets are usually more scarce, and a disaster -- whether a human error or a technological one -- could easily damage your credibility. Take a look at these resources, case studies, advice columns and tips for disaster recovering planning.

This guide is part of SearchCIO-Midmarket.com's Midmarket CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the Midmarket CIO Briefings section.

Table of contents

  Disaster recovery plans: Points to consider
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Disaster recovery plans and strategies run the gamut from relatively simple and straightforward to complex and all encompassing, depending on need and applicable threats. While applicable threats are generally the same for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and large enterprises, the relative scale of the environment and resulting impact and disruption to your business are what set SMBs apart.

Here are some disaster recovering planning issues to consider:

  • What could happen and what is most likely to happen, and how will it affect your business?
    Example: If email is an essential enabler for your business, then it needs to have a DR focus. Could you revert to manual processes for some period of time, and if so, for how long and at what expense to your business? Identify what needs to be protected along with what is required in order to restart, restore and recover your business applications and data.

Learn more in "Disaster recovery plans: Points to consider." Also:

  DR outsourcing: Simple and cheap
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The thought of a disaster wiping out or crippling your small or medium-sized business probably crosses your mind more than you'd care to admit. One way to minimize the effects of a disaster is to outsource your disaster recovering planning tasks to a third party.

Assess your needs: Before you begin researching a third party or service provider, you must determine whether you have sufficient resources in-house to cope with a disaster. Does your staff have enough knowledge? Do you have the proper facilities and hardware?

There are three approaches for ascertaining staff knowledge:

Ask what your staff can do. This is an informal approach. You can find out a lot by simply asking your staff members what they can and can't do.

Find out what else you can do in "Disaster recovery outsourcing: Simple and cheap." Also:

  • Disaster recovery is ad hoc and expensive, say users
    Users at Gartner's storage show in Orlando admit that their disaster recovery plans are unrehearsed and too expensive.
  • IT consultant discusses virtualization for disaster recovery
    Virtualization is useful for more than server consolidation, says an IT expert. In this Q&A, we discover the benefits of using virtualization as part of a disaster recovery plan.
  DR still not a priority for most CIOs
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DR and business continuity (BC) plans often fall through the cracks as IT staffs and company executives focus more on fixing problems that crop up and keeping up with competitors in an increasingly nimble global economy.

According to Stephanie Balaouras, a senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., a company's organizational chart can play a huge role in whether it has a plan. While business continuity plans often fall under the purview of a senior-level executive, disaster recovering planning is generally left to the IT department, which must make a compelling business case to upper management to receive approval to spend staff time and resources on developing a plan.

Learn more in "Disaster recovery still not a priority for most CIOs." Also:

  Disaster recovery checklist: Networks
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This checklist, which is broken down into four topical areas -- general network considerations, LAN, WAN and network infrastructure applications -- can help you focus your disaster recovery planning effort to make sure your network is adequately protected.

General network considerations

  • When preparing a DR plan, remember to take "partial disasters" into account. For example, if your Internet circuit is down for 48 hours but all other services are functional, what is your plan? Not all disasters include "total destruction of your primary data center."
  • Diagram your current network and identify network devices. What is the criticality of these devices? How do those devices fit into the business-impact studies that determine the criticality of company infrastructure?

Learn more in "Disaster recovery checklist: Networks." Also:

  • Network disaster recovery tips for business continuity
    Network disaster recovery planning tips for business continuity from Verizon Business highlight what needs to be done to weather the storm.
  • Disaster recovery options improve with WAN optimization
    Disaster recovery plans are now a necessity for enterprises, and WAN optimization can improve the way DR policies work on the network and reduce costs.
  More resources
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Years ago I was working for a company that went through one with no recovery procedure in place, I can say it was not fun. It took just over 2 weeks of piecing our data and system back together. To this day and many companies later I am still shocked by how many still do not have a written plan in place. I offer my experience and it seems to fall on deaf ears.