Designing a business continuity plan
must choose recovery software based on their requirements and the cost associated
with recovery, says Anil Desai
The objectives of enterprise recovery are to protect the organisations
data and to return systems (and users) to operational status as rapidly as possible.
Companies must select recovery solutions that support their business requirements
and are well suited to restore systems from failures they are most likely to
face. Many organisations make the mistake of focussing their recovery plans
on the most severe situations (such as destruction from physical disaster),
leaving themselves exposed to other availability problems that are far more
likely to occur, such as OS failures and software corruption.
Understanding System Failures
Worthy of note is the fact that the most common cause of a disaster is neither
physical destruction nor hardware failure but operating system (OS) failure.
These and other software-induced failures can be triggered by faulty updates,
application or OS errors, malware, or power failures. Preparing for these seemingly
inevitable failures is a fundamental requirement for every IT team.
According to Gartner, a key cause of server downtime with Windows is the increasing
frequency of required software patches, especially security-related patches.
In her recent report, the Vice-president of Gartner, Carolyn DiCenzo states,
Companies reported that they can no longer afford the time to thoroughly
test each software patch and then deploy them across a growing number of servers,
especially Windows and Linux servers, in a timely manner. The risk of waiting
is often too great. Server administrators are increasingly turning to recovery
tools that allow them to repair or roll back to the last working state without
re-installing or going to system backup tapes.
Cost Of Recovery
To evaluate the true cost of any particular recovery method, an organisation
must factor in the following expenses:
- Recovery solution implementation costs, which include
acquisition costs (such as additional hardware and software), staff time required
to install and support the solution, and the impact on system resources such
as network bandwidth.
- System downtime costs, which reflect lost revenue
from e-commerce installations and other business-impacting applications.
- Data loss cost, which can be incurred to re-capture
or re-create data.
- Lost user productivity cost, which includes non-productive
time while systems or files are unavailable, or repeated efforts to recover
Advantages Of Repair And Recovery
- Reduced downtime and rapid recovery
As people in every size and type of environment rely more and more on their
computing resources, downtime becomes ever more costly. One of the main
purposes of data recovery tools is to quickly and efficiently resolve problems
that might prevent systems from operating properly. When well-designed software
tools are used to diagnose and repair problems, losses due to downtime can
be dramatically reduced.
- Reliable recovery
When problems occur, its important for recovery operations to be
reliable and accurate.
- Cost savings
Earlier in this paper we looked at factors that should be taken into account
when determining the total costs of downtime. Data recovery tools can greatly
reduce these costs in a number of ways:
- Reduced IT personnel costs
- Controlled backup expenses
- Reduced reliance on documentation
- Reduced downtime.
Recovery Tool Features
Organisations must select recovery solutions that support
their business requirements and are well suited to restore systems from
disasters they are most likely to face such as OS failure and software
Now that weve looked at the various benefits of repair
and recovery tools, lets focus on how to pick the products that deliver
the highest return. In this section well look at some of the features
that IT managers should consider when evaluating data recovery tools.
Functionality is the key to any product evaluation. The ability of a single
product to address multiple aspects of system recovery can provide compounded
benefits over time.
- Flexible recovery options
System recovery can often involve multiple aspects of troubleshooting and
the need to combine different approaches to quickly solve a problem. Because
of this, utilities that offer maximum flexibility have the potential to
provide the greatest value whenever repairs are urgently needed. For example,
- Multiple means of access to a dead or unbootable system.
- Diagnostic capabilities which can aid troubleshooting and accelerate
the repair process.
- Recovery tools that provide network connectivity to deliver greater assurance
and minimise data loss.
- Utilities that can repair a virus- or worm-infected system while the
operating system is in a safe, offline state.
- Operating system compatibility within an organisation that has the potential
to provide greater value.
Ideally, a recovery tool should combine multiple features like these to address
the range of problems that IT personnel are likely to encounter.
Finally, though ease of use is an important consideration
for any software product, it can be critical when it comes to recovery tools.
The author is a consultant based in Austin, Texas. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org