A common attitude to outsourcing your disaster recovery solution is that you pay your supplier to be proactively responsible for ensuring your IT systems will be recovered quickly in an emergency, so you can sit back and relax in the knowledge it will all work when you need it. Right?

On one hand this should be correct – surely one of the benefits of outsourcing disaster recovery is that it frees up a lot of your time, enabling you to focus on building competitive advantage into your business? It’s what providers are selling as a key benefit – peace of mind, optimal success rates and huge time savings.  On the other hand, the success of a disaster recovery solution relies on your provider being up to date with your live IT system. That takes a bit of work and energy from your side. Realistically the attitude above will not result in peace of mind or optimal success rates – it will only save you lots of time. So how can you best manage your outsourced disaster recovery solution to ensure that you stand the best chance of recovery success?

  1. After the set-up process, ensure that a full disaster recovery test is carried out. This entails bringing up your entire system and making sure it boots successfully, then subsequently testing it thoroughly. This not only check s that the solution works, but also helps your team familiarise themselves with the recovery process.
  2. Chances are a test will highlight areas which need a bit more work. It’s important that any errors or files that are missing are worked through with your supplier to bring your systems back in line with your live one. This will give you a feeling of a real recovery environment and how quickly your supplier can deal with the additional configuration requirements to give you full return to service (100% productivity of staff under ‘business as usual’ conditions).
  3. Any databases or apps that are moved or changed on your live system need to be documented without fail. Set up a process of logging any changes to your IT system so that in an emergency this information is available. It will help your supplier understand what they should be restoring where.
  4. Increase your testing frequency with your supplier. If you are going to save lots of time by outsourcing, investing 10% of it back into testing will be really worthwhile. A full disaster recovery test will typically take 3 hours of your time. Even once a month will be advantageous. Your process of logging changes can undergo rigorous inspection if you are regularly testing, which will ultimately end in smoother and faster recoveries. Currently only50% of companies test every 12 months which leads to excessive vulnerabilities.
  5. Stay informed. The disaster recovery market is moving quickly and your supplier’s proposition may be too. Talk regularly to your provider whilst keeping an eye on the market to ensure you have the latest benefits. It’s all about protecting your business in the best way possible.

Even outsourcing your disaster recovery solution carried the responsibility of management. The better it is managed, the more effective it will be and the safer your business because of it.

By: Ian Daly