Disaster Recovery – Sometimes the Devil Really is in the Details

Disaster recovery planners are often recommended to take a holistic view of their IT organisation. They should work to deal with potential outcomes, rather than possible causes. That certainly helps businesses to greater overall DR effectiveness and cost-efficiency. However, there’s no denying that a number of practical details must also be respected. Otherwise, the best-aligned DR plan may never get off the ground. The old rhyme says: “For want of a nail, a shoe was lost…” and finally the whole kingdom too. Here are a few such ‘nails’ that disaster recovery planning can take into account to get those mission-critical apps up and running again after an incident.

  • Application activation keys. You can imagine this situation. You slide in the CD with the vendor’s software and your system asks you for your 25-character user key, which was on the CD box that was stored ‘somewhere’ at the time of the first installation…
  • Encryption keys. Encryption key management, like application key management above, needs to be planned ahead of time for keys to be available to the right people at the right time.
  • Application customisation. This might be ‘just’ configuration data (for databases and email systems, this alone can be complex). It might be additional scripts or modules of code that drive applications the way you need. Keep all of this safe to avoid lengthy business outages.
  • Super-user privileges. Illness, inability to access systems or just downright refusal to cooperate (it can happen) may all prevent a person with super-user privileges from re-activating applications. Make sure that the right precautions are taken to prevent such a ‘single point of failure’.

In general, test your disaster recovery plans thoroughly to make sure that all the requisite ‘nails’ are in place – whether these or others, ready to restart your IT operations as required.