Business Continuity Planning vs. Disaster Recovery Planning
Disaster Recovery ConsultingIn case of a catastrophic event, whether natural or man-made, a sound business continuity/disaster recovery (DR/BC) strategy can make the difference between a business glitch and a calamity. Progent's DR/BC consultants can help small and mid-size companies design and test a contingency plan that incorporates advanced technologies and proven processes to get back in business quickly after a catastrophic network failure while at the same time working within a restricted IT budget.

The terms "business continuity planning" and "disaster recovery planning" are often used interchangeably, but it is useful to distinguish them. Business continuity planning takes a high-level, holistic view of a business to determine what personnel, physical resources, and operational processes are required to keep an organization running at some minimally acceptable level after a catastrophe and how to restore normal operations efficiently. Business continuity planning takes into account information technology issues, which are vital to any business, but also addresses areas beyond computing. Will you need temporary office space? Substitute vehicles? Alternate vendors? Replacement personnel? Do you have an emergency notification system in place to alert workers and other stakeholders? Are you required to file regulatory reports or contact insurers? Do you need access to emergency funding? Progent can provide the services of experienced consultants who can help you follow best practices to create and document a high-level business continuity plan that deals with these critical questions and provides a cohesive game plan to follow in case of a disaster.

Disaster recovery planning is more focused on information technology issues and involves the down-to-earth details of how to keep your crucial IT operations running, protect your data, and restore full network functionality as quickly as practical. Progent can provide the services of a certified IT professional who can help you create and implement a disaster recovery plan that utilizes the latest generation of technologies designed to provide a high degree of fault tolerance and recoverability at historically low prices.

What Is Involved in Developing a Disaster Recovery Plan?
It is still relatively rare for small businesses to have a comprehensive business continuity plan in place, but only businesses with an insatiable appetite for risk should go without a disaster recovery plan. Disaster recovery planning should address the IT resources needed to maintain a defined level of operational capability and restore full network functionality as quickly as practical. The plan should anticipate a broad variety of disaster scenarios such as fires, storms, earthquakes, chemical accidents, flooding, pandemics, loss of key personnel, equipment or system failure, human error, and cyber crime.

You should assess the worst-case impact of each of these disaster scenarios on your network infrastructure and business processes and prioritize the areas that are most critical for you to protect in order to limit business disruption to an acceptable level. For each scenario, you should develop a recovery strategy that addresses your local and remote workers, customers, vendors, facilities, hardware and software, communication services, support contracts, and lead-times for replacing equipment and services and restoring data. Your recovery strategies should include specific action plans, escalation procedures, and data retention and restoration policies. You should also test the plan and train your employees responsible for carrying it out.

Progent's Process for Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan
Progent has developed an effective and affordable process for helping small business create a viable disaster recovery plan. This process involves seven distinct phases:

Phase 1: Business Impact and Risk Analysis
In this phase, you differentiate between critical and non-critical organization functions. A function is critical if its loss for any significant period of time would result in damage that stakeholders regard as unacceptable. You can't realistically decide that all network functions are critical because you have to consider the probable cost of establishing and maintaining rapid business or technical recovery solutions. You also have to take into account that some functions may be dictated by law or contractual obligations. Progent can help you make informed prioritization decisions by assessing the cost and timing issues associated with various recovery strategies.

Once you have identified critical organization functions, you have to establish two values for each function:

  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO) - the acceptable latency of data that will be recovered
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) - the acceptable amount of time to restore the function
The Recovery Point Objective must ensure that the Maximum Tolerable Data Loss for each activity is not exceeded. The Recovery Time Objective must ensure that the Maximum Tolerable Period of Disruption (MTPD) for each activity is not exceeded.

The Impact and Risk Analysis phase results in the recovery requirements for each critical function. The recovery requirements consist of:

  • The business requirements for recovery of the critical function
  • The technical requirements for recovery of the critical function
Phase 2: Recovery Requirement Documentation
After you complete the Business Impact and Risk Analysis phase, the business and technical plan requirements have to be documented before you can move on to the solution design and implementation phases. Progent is experienced in generating this vital documentation quickly and can work with your asset management team, if you have one, to identify available and re-allocateable resources you can use for disaster recovery.

Phase 3: Solution Design
The goal of the Solution Design phase is to identify the most cost-effective disaster recovery solution that meets the requirements identified in the Business Impact and Risk Analysis stage. For your critical IT applications, this means determining how the minimum application and application data requirements can be restored within the target timeframe. Disaster recovery plans may also have to address areas beyond IT applications. A common example is the requirement to preserve information in hard copy format. Progent's expertise with Microsoft and Cisco technology, business application programming and support skills, experience providing Internet data center consulting and network management services, and extensive background helping small business recover from catastrophic network failures ensure that the solutions Progent proposes take full advantage of advanced technology to keep costs down while maximizing the chances of success.

Key areas defined in the Solution Design phase include:

  • The crisis management command structure
  • The location of a secondary work site (where necessary)
  • Telecommunication architecture between primary and secondary work sites
  • Data replication methodology between primary and secondary work sites
  • The application, hardware, and software required at the secondary work site
  • The type of physical data requirements at the secondary work site.
Phase 4: Implementation
The Implementation phase is the most important part of a disaster recovery plan and features the execution of the design elements identified in the Solution Design phase. Work package testing may take place during the implementation of the solution. Progent's skills as system integrators come into play in this phase and help minimize the time and cost required to roll out a viable solution.

Phase 5: Testing and Verification of Technical Solutions
Testing and adjusting recovery plans for specific anticipated scenarios is another critical element of a viable disaster recovery program. The complexity of fault-tolerant networks requires rigorous testing to verify that a recovery plan is feasible and that assigned responsibilities are understood. Recovery exercises will show whether backed-up data can be usefully restored, alternative connectivity technology provides adequate performance under realistic loads, fault-tolerant technologies perform failover processes as planned, and IT staff knows what is expected. Testing exercises will help you identify weak points in your recovery plan so you can make adjustments before disaster strikes. Progent's experience with system design and support ensure that the Testing and Verification phase of a disaster recover plan is thorough and meaningful without being unnecessarily protracted and costly.

Primary areas involved in the Testing and Verification phase of a business continuity plan include:

  • Application security
  • Hardware operability check
  • Application operability/availability check
  • Data verification
Key questions that are addressed during the Testing and Verification phase of a disaster recovery plan include:
  • Are all work processes for critical functions documented?
  • Have the systems used in the execution of critical functions changed?
  • Are the documented work checklists meaningful and accurate for staff?
  • Do the documented work process recovery tasks and supporting disaster recovery infrastructure allow staff to recover within the predetermined recovery time objective?
Phase 6: Treatment of Test Failures
In this phase you resolve any issues or concerns that arose during the Testing and Verification phase. Any changes in the solution design that come about during this phase should be reflected in the associated disaster recovery documents. Progent's experience with disaster recovery solution design and implementation help keep test failures at a minimum and speed up remediation, saving clients time and money.

Phase 7: Handover
The handover of a turnkey disaster recovery solution includes three activities:

  • The first activity in the Handover phase is to confirm the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in the written manual and the distribution of the documentation to the client's staff. Staff members whose roles are identified as critical for disaster response and recovery are provided training to ensure that they understand what they are expected to do and know how to do it.
  • The second activity is testing and verification of technical solutions established for recovery operations.
  • The third activity is an all-hands testing and verification of documented organization recovery procedures.
Other Zero-Downtime Solutions Offered by Progent
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco consultants can help you to build a sensible, fault-tolerant IT architecture that resolves major challenges encompassing a wide array of networking solutions and processes such as:

Fault Tolerant Internet Connections
Progent's Cisco-certified network professionals can show you how to build an affordable, high availability Internet configuration solution that can achieve 24x7 Internet connectivity via a broad range of high availability Internet network technologies including fault tolerant BGP, automatic fail-over, and redundant Internet Service Providers. Progent offers Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert engineers to show you how to utilize the latest technology for 24x7 Internet access to build an economical, fully redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to create fault tolerant Internet availability. For more information, visit Non-stop Internet Access Solutions.

Server Virtualization
Virtualization is a key part of any current disaster recovery solution. Virtual servers can be provisioned, updated, copied, and recovered rapidly and easily, offering a degree of flexibility for achieving maximum uptime almost impossible to match with physical servers. Progent can help your company to plan and deploy a virtual server solution based on Windows Hyper-V, which offers powerful business continuity capabilities that include online system backup and live migration. Microsoft Windows Hyper-V can eliminate much of the time and effort needed for scheduled service, failing over to hot backup data centers, and restoring business-critical functions. For more details, see Windows Hyper-V Virtual Server Consulting Services.

Microsoft Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 brought world-class fault tolerance and recoverability to Microsoft's failover clustering platform. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this technology and delivers significant enhancements offering increased extensibility, better disk storage availability for server applications, streamlined administration, quicker automatic failover, and additional flexibility for designing failover clusters. For details, go to Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Migration and Support.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Clusters
The clustering technology incorporated into the Datacenter and Enterprise editions of Windows Server 2012 R2 has been radically redesigned to streamline the installation, setup, and administration of clusters that offer improved levels of network availability, protection, efficiency, and flexibility. New or improved capabilities include cluster validation, revamped configuration and installation, improved cluster administration, new cluster infrastructure for increased availability, hardened protection and quorum models, minimization of failure points, more disk and memory capacity, and enhancements for geographically dispersed clusters. For more information, go to Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Support.

Network Load Balancing
Progent offers high availability load balancing support covering system load balancing, load balanced applications, network backbone routing, and content delivery products such as Cisco Content Engine. Non-stop load balancing solutions for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Metaframe and Presentation Server, Cisco CSS, Cisco Distributed Director and Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. For details, visit Non-stop Load Balancing.

Zero Downtime Colocation
Progent's Data Center professionals can help you select high availability data centers that meet the particular requirements of your company. Fault tolerant off-site data centers are especially attractive to small and mid-size organizations because of their affordability and simplified logistics in comparison to pursuing a do-it-yourself approach. Attempting to build an on-site data center that offers even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for typical small organizations. Progent can show you how to reap all the advantages of non-stop Internet data centers by offering a full range of engineering and support services. To find out more, go to Non-stop Internet Data Centers Consulting.

High-Availability Branch Office Networking
Progentís multi-site connection professionals can help companies achieve zero-downtime interoffice connectivity solutions through fully redundant system architectures featuring automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE network engineers can design and implement high-availability Inter-office connections supported by non-stop EIGRP network routers or zero-downtime OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how multi-path connectivity and transparent fail-over can provide economical 24x7 interoffice connectivity. To read more, visit 24x7 Inter-office Connectivity.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Backup and Restore Consulting Services
Progent's expert Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager engineers can help your company to create a practical workplace recovery strategy, design a cost-effective fault-tolerant IT infrastructure, deploy a Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager-powered recovery system, comprehensively test your system, train your administrative personnel or local consultants how to maintain SCDPM, or provide complete IT support outsourcing such as remote hosting of Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager machines in Progent's data center facility. To learn more, visit System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Expertise.

Fully Managed Offsite DPM Backup Service
Progentís affordably priced Offsite DPM-based Backup Service Package combines the power of Microsoft Data Protection Manager with the state-of-the-art security features of the QTS Data Center in Sacramento, California to deliver continual, non-disruptive backup for up to 2.5 Terabytes of data from one or several of your Windows servers. Progent's service package includes all setup, management, and monitoring required for a comprehensive offsite backup system. For details, visit Managed Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service.

Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting
Progent offers economical online support from engineers skilled in a wide range of utilities and services that provide solutions for protecting Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and workstations plus notebooks and smartphones. Progent can provide consulting support for all major backup platforms including Acronis Backup and Recovery, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist, HP Data Protector, Double-Take Software, MozyPro, Retrospect, Apple Time Machine, VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP), and Oracle Solaris FLARs. Progent's consultants can help your company to deploy, upgrade, or troubleshoot data backup solutions for a variety of architectures including on-premises, remote, cloud-based, or hybrid. To learn more, go to Backup and Restore Solutions Consulting.

Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup
Double-Take publishes a family of products designed to provide small and midsize companies a variety of cost-effective solutions for backing up and recovering vital workloads such as Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, Blackberry, and Microsoft Office SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning experts have extensive backgrounds incorporating Double-Take Software technology into small business information systems to achieve an advanced level of fault tolerance and disaster recovery capability at a budget-friendly price. For more information, see Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup.

CRISC-certified Network Risk Mitigation
The CRISC program was initiated by ISACA to validate a consultant's skills to plan, implement, and support information system controls to reduce network risk. Progent can provide the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to help you to create and carry out a business continuity or disaster recovery plan based on industry best practices promoted by CRISC and crafted to align with your organization's risk appetite, business goals, and IT budget. To learn more, visit CRISC-qualified IT risk mitigation experts.

Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Gold Partner and offers professional application expertise for a broad range of business software programs, Progent can help customers to arrive at efficient IT solutions that optimize the business value of your network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent can provide the expertise of certified engineers and specialists with experience in architecting, configuring and maintaining infrastructure solutions built on Cisco technology. The depth and breadth of Progent's technical know-how and Progent's sensitivity to the needs of small companies make Progent the perfect resource for creating and maintaining an affordable, fault-tolerant information system.

How You Can Access Progent's Consultants for Disaster Recovery Solutions Help
In order to contact Progent about professional expertise for workplace recovery planning, call 1-800-993-9400 or see Contact Progent.

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