Is Disaster Recovery Really Worth The Trouble (Part 1)

Is Disaster Recovery Really Worth The Trouble

(Part 1 of a 4 part series)

Guest Post by Tommy Tang – Cloud Evangelist 

Disaster Recovery

Often when you talk to your IT colleagues or business owners about protecting their precious system with adequate Disaster Recovery capability (aka DR), you will get the typical response like ‘I have no money for Disaster Recovery’ or ‘We don’t need Disaster Recovery because our system is highly available’. Before you blow your fuse and try to serve them a comprehensive lecture on why Disaster Recovery is important, you should understand the rationale behind their thinking.

People would normally associate the word ‘disaster’ to insurance policy. So it is about natural disaster event such as flooding, thunderstorm, earthquake or man made disaster like fire, loss of power or terrorist attack. These special events are ‘meant’ to happen infrequently that the inertia of human behaviour will try to brush that off, and in particularly when you are asking for money to improve Disaster Recovery capability!

You may ask how do you overcome such deep rooted prejudice towards DR in your organisation? The first thing you must do is DO NOT talk about Disaster Recovery alone. DR should be one of the subjects covered by the wider discussion regarding system resilience and availability. Before your IT manager or business sponsor going to cough up some hard fought budget for your disposal you’ll need to articulate the benefit in clear, precise and easily understood layman’s terms. Do not overplay the technology benefit such as ‘it’s highly modularised and flexible to change’ or ‘it’s loosely coupled micro-service design that is good for business growth’, or ‘it’s well-aligned to the hybrid Cloud architecture roadmap for the enterprise’. Quite frankly they don’t give a toss about technology as they only care about operations impact or business return.

 For IT manager it’s your job to paint the rosy picture on how a well designed and implemented DR system can help meet the expected Recovery Time Objective (RTO), minimise human error brought on by the pressure cooker like DR exercise, and save the manager from humiliation amongst the peers and superiors in the WAR room during a real DR event. As for the business sponsor it’s only natural not to spend money unless there is material benefit or consequence. You’ll need to apply the shock tactics that will scare the ‘G’ out of them. For certain system it’s not difficult to get the message across. For example, the Internet Banking system that requires urgent funding to improve DR capability and resilience. The consequences of not having the banking system available to customers during business hours will have severe material and reputation impact. The bad publicity generated in today’s omnipresent digital media is both brutal and scathing and will leave no place to hide.

So now you have done the hard sell and secured funding to work on the DR project, how would you go about delivering maximum value with limited resource? This could be the very golden ticket for you to ascend to the senior or executive position. Here is my simple 3 phase approach outlined below and I’m sure there are many ways to achieve the similar outcome.

Architecture

  • This is the foundation of a resilient and highly available design that can be applied to different systems and not just a gold plated one-size-fit-all solution. The design must be prescriptive but yet pragmatic with well defined cost and benefits.

Implementation

  • It has to be agile with risk mitigation strategy incorporated in all delivery phases. I believe automation is the key enabler to quality assurance, operational efficiency and manageability.

On-Premises and Cloud

  • The proliferation and adoption of Cloud has certainly changed the DR game. Many different conversations taking place today is about “To Cloud” or “Not To Cloud”, and if it is Cloud then HOW? Disaster Recovery must be, along with system resilience, included into such critical decision, and it’s ought to be adaptive to whatever path the business has chosen.

Understanding what DR really means in the organisation is utterly important and it can often lead to the change of prejudicial thinking with well articulated benefits and consequences. In the coming weeks I’m going to share my insights for the aforementioned phase approach.

This article is a guest post by Tommy Tang (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tangtommy/). Tommy is a well rounded and knowledgeable Cloud Evangelist with over 25+ years IT experience covering many industries like Telco, Finance, Banking and Government agencies in Australia. He is currently focusing on the Cloud phenomena and ways to best advise customers on their often confused and thorny Cloud journey.