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It's been said many times, but we'll say it again: Disaster is inevitable. In crafting disaster recovery plans, companies must consider environmental, computer and human-related threats -- each of which require different treatment post-disruption.
An IT disaster recovery test examines each step in a disaster recovery (DR) plan to ensure an organization can recover mission-critical data, restore business applications and continue normal operations after an interruption of services. In SearchCIO's June tweet jam, it quickly became apparent that while creating IT DR plans is essential, executing test runs of these plans to confirm they do their jobs is just as important, if not more so.
How frequently should enterprises test their IT disaster recovery plans?
Our #CIOChat debate kicked off with cries for daily testing of an IT disaster recovery plan using automated tools:
Others, including SearchCompliance Site Editor Ben Cole, agreed that very frequent testing is the way to go, given the stakes:
A1 Best to plan ahead rather than wait for something bad to happen- with speed of modern business seconds count when breach occurs #CIOChat— Ben Cole (@BenjaminCole11) June 25, 2014
A1. DR/BC is a living breathing document/process, you should be testing and improving pieces of it every day #CIOChat— Brian Katz (@bmkatz) June 25, 2014
In addition to being this month's tweet jam expert, Paul Kirvan is an independent consultant and IT auditor with more than 22 years of experience in business continuity (BC) and DR. What is his IT disaster recovery plan advice? Scheduling a test less than a month in advance is OK, he said:
You can plan, schedule and execute a test in less than a month, again so long as there are regular reminders. #CIOChat— Paul Kirvan (@pkbcm1) June 25, 2014
Tweet jam participant Robert Payne, a product marketing manager at a data protection and disaster recovery vendor, said large-scale tests that demand users' participation require ample planning:
Enterprise DR planning tests in enterprises can require a lot of planning and coordination. Tweet jammer Mark Thiele was thinking more in terms of years, a suggestion that drew several responses:
Whether your IT team decides to do daily, weekly, monthly or yearly tests, key players must receive proper notice. According to participant Denise Dubie, there is no such thing as "too soon" when planning and distributing materials related to DR tests:
A1: Never too early to start planning for DR/BC testing #CIOChat with incremental improvements documented along the way— Denise Dubie (@DDubie) June 25, 2014
While companies can't pinpoint exactly when disaster might strike, it's important that the right people are informed of the DR test run, the primary function of which is to fully evaluate an organization's business continuity and IT disaster recovery plan. Sending a "this is just a test" memo to the entire company isn't vital, perhaps, but everyone should be involved in carrying out his or her end of the DR bargain, in ways big and small:
A1 Must be shared responsibility as well, from senior management on down—anyone involved in crucial business processes #CIOChat— Ben Cole (@BenjaminCole11) June 25, 2014
Read common DR test mistakes to avoid and why testing is so important on our sister site, SearchDisasterRecovery.