The Non-IT Side of DR
Most experts concur on another point — IT is only one aspect of DR.
“It’s a big mistake to think that the IT department is the only department needed to develop, test, and recover the business,” says Gartner’s Witty.
She explains that DR includes every department of the organization and even extends to federal, state, and local authorities to coordinate evacuation routes and emergency service procedures. Such bodies must be included in the DR planning process although it can be hard in some cases to get them to test with you.
In a regional outage, for example, personnel cannot be expected to be onsite for business recovery if they are having problems at home related to the event. So DR must also encompass supporting them at home.
Witty also points out the vital role of employee health and welfare during an event. In a regional outage, for example, personnel cannot be expected to be onsite for business recovery if they are having problems at home related to the event. So DR must also encompass supporting them at home.
“The American Red Cross is used a lot for this part of the education and awareness training,” says Witty.
Having people outside of the IS organization involved in DR planning is one way to prevent unfortunate publicity during natural disasters. Other common mistakes include having “redundant power” on the same utility grid, establishing DR sites too close together, and situating the DR site in too isolated a location so staff members can’t easily reach it during an event.
“You have to have your DR site far enough away to be outside the immediate threat area but close enough to be practical enough for travel to the remote facility,” says SunGard Vice President of Consulting, Product Development Jim Grogan. “Position a recovery side outside of the weather pattern or fault zone you are planning for, so you don’t find yourself with your backup location damaged too.”
But there comes a point where planning for that worse case scenario can be stretched well beyond the bounds of logic. Who would have predicted, for example, that a power outage would affect 14 states? Yet that’s exactly what happened on the Eastern Seaboard in August 2003. Or how about two Category 5 Hurricanes hitting New Orleans within one month (which almost happened with Katrina and Rita). Those kind of watershed events can completely change how the planning process is conducted. The reality is that most people think smaller than such events and can hardly conceive of catastrophes that are national in scope.
“You have to plan carefully for high probability events and then also understand how you might be affected by the less likely occurrences,” says Grogan.