Disaster Recovery: A Preparation Checklist
For too many IT managers, the security fervor that erupted last fall has dissipated. But disaster recovery experts say a company's future literally can hinge on how well-prepared it is for a serious outage. Here are some recommendations for companies preparing for the worst.
Dave Johnson, director of technology at Grant Thornton, a global accounting, tax and business advisory firm based in Chicago, can testify to that. Johnson and his IT team had spent years transforming the company's network architecture from a disarray of decentralized offices running a hodgepodge of servers, PCs, notebooks and switches into a unified national network focused on four regional hubs and a major centralized data center.
His mirrored, redundant system was prepared to handle the loss of a hub. But Johnson always thought a hub would go down because of a callous worker with a backhoe or maybe even an earthquake. He never counted on a catastrophic terrorist attack taking out data and voice connection with his New York hub that sat only four blocks from Ground Zero.
"We designed it to address an outage," says Johnson, whose Chicago hub picked up the New York-bound network traffic within six minutes of the hub's outage. "We had been living day-to-day with a redundant environment...I just never thought it would be an outage caused by this type of event."
And industry security experts say Johnson definitely is on the right track. They just wish more IT managers would follow his lead, charging that the IT security fervor that erupted last fall was soon replaced with complacency born of too few IT workers to handle big change-over projects, budgets without enough money to fund new systems and rebuilds and a lack of expertise to put plans into motion.
"You've got to approach data recovery in a multi-tier manner," says Tom Hickman, engineering operations and quality assurance manager of Connected Corp., a Framingham, Mass.-based PC data protection company. "If you can't get your critical systems back online in 24 hours, there's a good chance you'll no longer be a company."
Hickman, Johnson and Dan Woolley, a vice president at Reston, Va.-based SilentRunner, a network security firm under the umbrella of Raytheon, say there are basic steps that IT managers should be taking to prepare their company for any kind of outage -- whether it be a terrorist attack or a wayward worker with a backhoe.
Here are a few of their recommendations:
-- What business needs have to be back up and running within minutes or hours?
-- What can be down for 24 hours?
-- What services or functions could be down for a week or two weeks?
September 10, 2002
A year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, what have IT managers learned from the disastrous strike that crippled many businesses and tripped up the American economy? Not enough, according to industry security experts.