Disaster Recovery Planning and the Use of Automation Software

If your IT systems go down, you want a solution in operation ASAP – or within the limits imposed by criteria like your recovery point objective and your recovery time objective. The problem is that under stress and time pressure, the difficulty of correcting failure is magnified. Human emotion is the cause. It causes delays, omissions and errors. Although it’s good to know that we’re all something more than just processors on two legs, sometimes pure logic gets the disaster recovery job done quicker. Pure logic? Sounds like a computer! If the recovery procedure was automated and run by computer, then the stress factor would be reduced. But how reasonable is it to try to automate systems like this?

Automation software is one possibility. It falls into one of two categories. The first category is programming-intensive. While it’s possible to automate processes such as failovers, triggering new instances of applications on servers or simply reporting IT malfunctions, it requires specific programming skills. If you don’t have them in-house, then you have to hire them in, albeit on a temporary basis. For many companies, it’s difficult to justify what may be a considerable additional expense.

The second category is automation software where intelligence is already built into the automation program rather than requiring advanced programming skills. More recent breeds of PC based automation software qualify here. They use integrated macro recorders to record manual keystroke sequences as reproducible processes. You ‘show’ the software the process once, and it stores your actions away to be able to reproduce them at fixed intervals (handy for saving time on back-up procedures) or when triggered by a certain action or event. For SMBs, this kind of automation software can be used for other applications as well, enhancing the possibilities for faster payback on the purchase of the licence, and the return on investment.