Dynamic disaster recovery plans and the promise of “set it and forget it”

The “set it and forget it” dream has been around for a while. It has always been tempting to wish that systems could be built in accordance with disaster recovery plans, and then left alone until the moment when circumstances called for them to be activated. Now cloud computing is being hailed as the solution that adjusts itself automatically to changes in DR planning. In a sense, this is true as back-up storage and computing resources can be scaled on demand. However, to use the analogy of a car that responds automatically to commands, there still has to be a driver who stays in control.

Disaster recovery plans need to be dynamic, whatever the case. Organisations and enterprises change too frequently, or their environments change too fast, for any DR plan to be carved in stone. “The plan is nothing, the planning is everything” still sums up the essence of the right approach to DR. Continual vigilance and evaluation of situational changes is a vital preparatory part of effective disaster recovery, although any tool that can help automatically translate those changes into updates to DR capacity is of course a boon.

So cloud computing services that adjust by themselves once the initial linkage has been set up to a disaster recovery plan do hold out the promise of setting it and forgetting it – in the strictly limited context of resource allocation. As long as cloud providers and their armies of engineers reliably hold up their end and look after all the IT servicing, oil changes and repairs necessary, then that makes one less thing for a DR manager or an IT director to worry about. But that manager or director still has to stay firmly in the driving seat to predict, plan and liaise correctly for disaster recovery overall.