Mega-Site Recovery Solutions
There is another approach to determining recovery requirements for the very large, complex I/T business
By Dennis Von Ende
Too big to consider a hot site subscription for business recovery? Your systems are so large and distributed there is no possibility
that any one vendor could provide recovery support at a reasonable price, let alone keep up with your growth and technology
demands. Executive management insists that a business recovery plan must be in place--and, of course--it must be reasonably
Where do you turn for help?
The answer may be a different approach to analyzing your recovery requirements. An approach, that we'll call an Enterprise Solution, begins with an analysis of your business' I/T capabilities, recovery timeframes, telecommunications requirements and all the other processes and procedures associated with the computer center's operations. A process, such as payroll can be understood by identifying its data requirements, time constraints, and dependencies.
As in all recovery plans that can be successfully implemented in the event of a disaster, a business needs to have executive support of resources and time. Disaster recovery must be an integral part of the I/T business. An individual, or even a dedicated staff, cannot ensure a business will recover from a disaster in sufficient time, if executive management does not have everyone's cooperation and commitment to maintaining a current and tested plan.
The demands of corporate and government audits, the need to assure business continuity, and the increasing size and difficulty in maintaining a workable plan, all add up to an increased management awareness and the need to be confident that the time and resource your business is dedicating to recovery are achieving the results desired. Whether you have the best possible and the most cost efficient plan will become more of an issue as complexity and size increase.
The Enterprise Solution approach provides the business executives with multiple cost and recovery options associated with their computer center operations, including client/server and network configurations. The options typically provided for consideration would be a combination of hot site, warm site, and cold site solutions, considering both remote and local options, with associated costs through five years of growth projections. Potential exposures and recommendations for functional improvements would also be addressed.
Six basic steps are used to gather the information for this detailed business and environment analysis:
Peak usage and growth projections are determined for CPU and DASD utilization at the process and subprocess levels with an assessment of criticality. This information allows for future planning, usually up to five years, as well as an understanding of the maximum resources required at any one time.
Recovery requirements are identified by recovery windows for all critical applications. The information is gathered down to the detail of understanding the MIPs generated by CPUs during peak processing periods and the gigabytes of storage necessary for DASD applications.
A detailed list of current data center and distributed I/T hardware is developed, identifying machines by type, model, and features. The same level of detail is gathered for all current networks.
All facilities information, such as electrical power, generators, air conditioning, water, raised floor, that is required to support the critical business processes is documented.
Various recovery site options are now reviewed and sized based on capacity, location, technical merits and ownership. Such questions as: what would be the cost and risk of recovering at a local facility, what are the exposures associated with having a remote hot site? What high availability options, such as electronic vaulting, need to be considered? These are just some of the questions and answers that need to be pursued dependent on particular business needs and expense constraints.
The financial analysis provides details of costs for all options. This may include the cost of a new building, various costs to recover at a remote facility scaled to different recovery times, costs of duplicate equipment and telecommunications expenses.
The time required to gather all the data necessary and to prepare the analysis reports averages about three to four weeks for two consultants working in a large complex I/T environment. During this time the consultants will be working closely with the client's personnel conducting interviews and completing data collection packages.
The information that is gathered is now modeled to provide the business executive several choices to make an informed decision. Not only can the costs of various decisions be seen, the corresponding risks are also known. An additional benefit that may result from this detailed analysis is the identification of any exposures to the current business recovery plan. With the detail of information that is now available, recommendations can be made and supported that will identify exact capacity requirements and possible alternative recovery locations which could be multiple or single site options. The choice of systems, software and an overall methodology for data base recovery and network support can now be decided based on specific recovery needs and costs.
Dennis Von Ende is the manager of Business Recovery Enterprise Solutions, a subsidiary of IBM. He is located in Southbury, Conn.
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