The title of this blog post could almost have read “Never send a human to do a machine’s job”.
While computerisation and automation may seem dehumanising at times, they can reliably and rapidly perform procedures without error, avoiding the mistakes that people make through inexperience or inattention when trying to apply disaster recovery routines.
However, human error is still a major risk, both in terms of causing IT disasters in the first place, and in causing DR procedures to fail afterwards.
- Human error has been held responsible for as much as 47% of major IT incidents in small and medium businesses, compared to 29% due to server failure, 15% due to power/communication failure, and the remaining 9% due to miscellaneous causes (fires, floods, and so on).
- Human error is less predictable than geographical, meteorological, or technological causes of IT disasters. There is currently no equivalent of advance storm warnings or impending hard disk failure, when it comes to human operators confusing master data and backup data repositories, and copying data the wrong way between them, for instance.
- Forgetfulness, “playing a hunch”, and failing to completely or correctly apply rules and procedures are all frequent human behaviours. On the other hand, they are absent from the digital disaster recovery systems on premises or in the cloud, set up to faithfully execute safeguard and recovery routines a thousand times over if necessary.
Yet, while good disaster recovery planning can help reduce risk by automating more and relying on manual intervention less, human beings still play a critical role.
It still takes human beings to see the big, business picture, and to architect an appropriate disaster recovery strategy, linking business priorities and DR objectives.
In DR as in other parts of enterprises, the best future is more likely to be a combination of people and digital systems working together, using the best of the strengths of each, rather than relying exclusively on one or the other.