Practice for a More “Perfect” Disaster Recovery Test

“Practice makes perfect” is a phrase that dates back to the 1500s. The advance of technology over the following centuries has done little to diminish its importance. There are certainly areas of life where technology has assisted with our mastery. But in many cases today, technology represents the thing we

“Practice makes perfect” is a phrase that dates back to the 1500s. The advance of technology over the following centuries has done little to diminish its importance. There are certainly areas of life where technology has assisted with our mastery. But in many cases today, technology represents the thing we expect to perfect. In the IT world, there’s no greater example than disaster recovery (DR) planning, testing and execution.

By Jason Rader

Who Needs DR Planning?

At Peak 10, we continue to see an increasing need for DR planning within our customer base. Technology advances and the growing expectations from an on-demand culture are forcing businesses across all verticals to have a DR plan in case the worst happens.

Related: Practical Advice Today to Survive a Disaster Tomorrow

Gone are the days of DR and business continuity (BC) planning being isolated to big business, finance and healthcare. If you have a presence on the Internet (and who doesn’t?), or deliver a service to your customers (hello American economy!), there’s an unspoken expectation that you will not go down. Many large companies are fortunate enough to have a team of people dedicated to DR/BC planning and testing. But what about those that don’t?

DR Testing Matters

We’ve made some changes recently to the testing approach we take with our Recovery Cloud customers at Peak 10, aimed at helping each of them build to a successful DR test — a key element in a DR plan. We found that many of our customers would go for months or even years without testing, then expect the first test to go perfectly with auditors and business unit leaders breathing down their necks.

Related: Disaster Recovery 101

The reality is that DR testing is hard — especially the first few times you try. It’s not quite as simple as flipping the magical DR switch to “ON” and kicking back to see what happens. Maybe technology will get us there one day. Until then, there are a myriad of questions to answer before your first full-blown DR test. Some questions will come to mind in the lead up to the test. There are more that you won’t realize until after your test begins as DR testing carries its own complexities and risks above and beyond planning for a true disaster.

Have you planned for user access, both during the test and during a true disaster, as those two use cases are often quite different? Do you how to test your key application without affecting production? How do you test your communication streams without actually spamming your customers? How does your business define a successful DR test? These are but a handful of the types of questions that arise from testing, and it’s only through a staged approach to testing that you can truly expect a full DR test to go flawlessly.

Related: Disaster Recovery Not Dead Yet

Learn from Failures

Vince Lombardi added his own spin to the opening quote when he famously said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” That may very well be true, but I think even Vince would agree that no one starts out with a perfect first practice. Perfection is a journey. You have to start at the beginning, learn from your failures and earn your way to perfect practice.

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