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Disaster recovery plans for remote, branch offices: A guide for CIOs

Disaster recovery plans for remote and branch offices can be complex, difficult to manage and expensive. Learn how to develop a DR plan for your remote sites in this guide.

Remote office/branch office (ROBO) disaster recovery plans can be complex, costly and difficult to manage from the central corporate location. But they shouldn't be overlooked -- especially by CIOs in areas at high risk for natural disasters and inclement weather.

From developing a strategic remote office disaster recovery plan to implementing and testing it, experts share their top do's and don'ts for a robust and efficient ROBO DR plan in this guide. How will an effective DR plan translate to remote sites? How much will a remote office disaster recovery plan cost? How will IT manage remote sites in the event of a disaster? What is the best remote office backup strategy for your business?

Learn the answers to these questions and more in our guide covering disaster recovery plans for remote and branch offices.

For free advice and resources on more IT and business topics, visit our list of Midmarket CIO Briefings.

Table of contents

    How do you set up disaster recovery plans for your remote office data?
    How are other midmarket companies addressing remote office disaster recovery plans?
     What should be included in your disaster recovery plans to address remote office data security?
    More resources

  How do you set up disaster recovery plans for your
  remote office data?
 Table of Contents

Let's face it: With the trouble CIOs have managing backup and restore at primary data centers, remote sites barely have a chance. Make the process as simple and straightforward as possible.

Start by really thinking through what remote-site systems and data the business absolutely, positively needs.

  • If "A" systems are down for a few minutes, the business is at risk.
  • "B" systems can be down for a few hours before the business is at risk.
  • "C" systems can be down for a long time before the business is at risk.

After sorting the systems, focus on detailed documentation and testing for remote-site DR plans.

   Learn more about sorting, documenting and testing in "How to build a remote-site disaster recovery plan -- a CIO's advice." Also:

  • How to set disaster recovery plans for remote offices, branch offices (SearchCIO-Midmarket.com)
    Learn how to effectively incorporate remote and branch offices into your established disaster recovery plans with tips and advice from one of Forrester's DR analysts.

  • Seven steps to securing funding of your disaster recovery plan (SearchCIO.com)
    Selling a disaster recovery plan to the CEO isn't an easy task. Follow these seven steps to secure funding for your company's disaster recovery plan.

  • Disaster recovery plans for remote offices, branch offices (SearchCIO-Midmarket.com)
    Disaster recovery plans should address remote and branch office issues, including optimized connections, new technologies and additional costs.

  How are other midmarket companies addressing
  remote office disaster recovery plans?
 Table of Contents

The problem with disaster recovery plans, Greg Folsom says, is not only anticipating all the things that can go wrong, but also paying for protection against them. "There is not enough money in the world to enable a medium-sized company to devote that much to DR," said Folsom, senior vice president of IT at Arnold Worldwide Partners, a Boston-based advertising firm. Well, certainly not enough money in the roughly $2 million annual IT budget at Folsom's disposal.

But if Folsom's 12-person IT team cannot afford to cover every DR contingency, it does need to provide a strong safety net for Arnold, which does more than $100 million in revenue and employs more than 650 people in Boston and regional offices in New York and Washington, D.C.

"We were hearing a lot of buzz around server virtualization and green data centers, or greener data centers. I wanted to get into all this stuff and I needed disaster recoverability," Folsom said. "I needed a flexible solution that could accommodate a variety of situations. I call it my Swiss Army knife of disaster recoverability."

He combined a server virtualization effort with a virtualized storage area network (SAN) for a solution that he said gives back a lot more than DR.

   Get more information in "Virtualization plus SAN gives ad firm flexible DR plan." Also:

  • A disaster recovery plan for branch offices: Five layers of redundancy (SearchCIO.com)
    This CIO's disaster recovery plan for branches of a hospital seems to have it all covered -- including the business mission.

  • When IT disaster recovery plan is put to the test, VoIP becomes savior (SearchCIO.com)
    As floods test a utility's IT disaster recovery plan, a VoIP installation rescues business continuity efforts and shows the importance of DR planning for non-headquarters offices.

  What should be included in your disaster recovery
  plans to address remote office data security?
 Table of Contents

There are several vendors that offer managed network services appliances for remote offices, which are often called Unified Threat Management (UTM). These products typically include a firewall, virtual private network (VPN) and intrusion detection features, along with antivirus screening tools and an assortment of other security measures. That covers a lot of ground, and this technical tip demonstrates what is involved in configuring and maintaining this type of protection using firewall/VPN appliances from Check Point Software Technologies, SonicWall and Fortinet.

What the three products have in common is some form of managed network services offering, so they can update their features, antivirus signature files and patches without IT intervention. A monthly subscription fee is required for this service, but in turn there's no need to worry about maintaining these boxes.

   Learn more about securing remote offices.. Also:

  • Real-world best practices for securing remote offices (SearchSecurityMidmarket.com)
    Preparation is important when securing a remote office or branch office, but there's nothing like the skills and experience gained from actually undergoing the experience.

  • Securing your first remote office: Solutions for under $10,000 (SearchSecurityMidmarket.com)
    Expert David Strom offers some best practices for securing remote data and remote network devices.

  • Data Domain beats out EMC for law firm's remote data protection (SearchDisasterRecovery.com)
    International law firm Norton Rose uses EMC storage, replication and failover for its headquarters, but it picked Data Domain over EMC to protect its data at branch offices.

  More resources  Table of Contents

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