For Businesses of All Sizes: Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Consulting and Support Services
Business Continuity Planning vs. Disaster Recovery Planning
In 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:
Hardware operability check
Application operability/availability check
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.
Additional Zero-Downtime Solutions Supported by Progent
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified consultants can help your company to implement a sensible, zero-downtime information network that resolves critical challenges covering a wide array of networking solutions and processes such as:
Non-stop Internet Connections
Progent's Cisco-certified IT professionals can help you build an economical, high availability Internet configuration architecture that can achieve non-stop Internet access via a broad array of fault tolerant Internet network technologies including non-stop BGP, automatic fail-over, and multiple Internet Service Providers. Progent can provide CCIE professionals to help you apply the most advanced technology for fault tolerant Internet access to build an economical, fully redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to deliver non-stop Internet connections. For more information, go to High Availability Internet Access Solutions.
Virtualization is a key part of any current disaster recovery solution. Virtual servers can be configured, re-purposed, copied, and restored rapidly and easily, providing a degree of flexibility for ensuring maximum uptime impossible to meet with traditional physical servers. Progent can help you to plan and implement a virtual server solution based on Microsoft Windows Hyper-V, which incorporates advanced business continuity capabilities that include transparent backup and live migration. Microsoft Windows Hyper-V can save much of the time and effort needed for scheduled maintenance, switching to emergency backup data centers, and restoring normal network functions. For additional information, visit Windows Hyper-V Virtual Server Consulting Services.
Microsoft Server 2012 Failover Clusters
Windows Server 2008 R2 brought world-class availability and recoverability to Microsoft's clustering platform. Windows Server 2012 builds on this foundation and delivers significant improvements that offer more scalability, non-stop disk storage uptime for server applications, streamlined management, quicker automatic failover, and additional flexibility for architecting clusters. To find out more, visit Windows Server 2012 Clustering Integration.
Windows Server 2008 R2 Clusters
The server cluster feature set built into the Datacenter and Enterprise versions of Windows Server 2008 R2 has been dramatically redesigned to simplify the installation, setup, and management of server clusters that offer greater levels of network availability, protection, performance, and flexibility. New or enhanced capabilities include automated cluster validation, revamped setup and installation, unified cluster administration, redesigned cluster infrastructure for increased uptime, hardened protection and quorum structure, elimination of failure points, more disk and memory capacity, and improvements for multi-site clusters. For more information, go to Windows Server 2008 R2 Failover Clustering Consulting.
Network Load Balancing
Progent offers high availability load balancing support that addresses system load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN infrastructure routing, and content delivery products including F5 Networks 3DNS. High availability load balancing technologies for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Windows Server 2003 and 2008 Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Access Gateway, Cisco Content Services Switch, Cisco Distributed Director and LocalDirector 400 series, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. For details, go to Fault Tolerant Load Balancing.
Fault Tolerant Internet Data Centers
Progent's Data Center consultants can show you how to identify high availability data centers that match the particular needs of your business. High availability co-location sites are especially appealing to small and mid-size organizations due to of their affordability and convenience in comparison to pursuing a do-it-yourself strategy. Trying to design an in-house data center with even a minimum level of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for typical small businesses. Progent is ready to show you how to get all the advantages of high-availability colocation centers by offering a full range of engineering and support services. To find out more, see Fault Tolerant Data Centers Expertise.
Fault Tolerant Inter-office Networking
Progentís branch office connection professionals can help businesses achieve zero-downtime interoffice connectivity solutions by means of redundant system architectures with transparent failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE network engineers can plan and implement ultra-reliable Inter-office connections supported by zero-downtime EIGRP routers or non-stop OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how multi-path connectivity and transparent fail-over can provide economical 24x7 interoffice connectivity. To learn more, visit High-Availability Inter-office Connectivity.
Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) Backup and Restore Consulting
Progent's certified Microsoft Data Protection Manager engineers can assist your company to develop an effective workplace recovery strategy, design a cost-effective non-stop IT architecture, install a DPM-based backup and restore solution, comprehensively test your DPM system, educate your administrative personnel or regular service providers how to manage Microsoft DPM, or provide complete information technology outsourcing services such as off-site housing of DPM machines in Progent's world-class data center. For details, see Data Protection Manager Expertise.
Managed Offsite DPM-based Backup Service Package
Progentís affordable Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service combines the power of Microsoft Data Protection Manager with the state-of-the-art security features of the Herakles data center to provide continual, non-disruptive backup for as much as 2.5TB of data from one or several of your Windows-powered servers. Progent's service package includes all configuration, management, and monitoring required for a comprehensive offsite data backup solution. For details, see Managed Offsite DPM-based Backup Service Package.
Backup and Restore Solutions Consulting and Support Services
Progent offers affordable online access to consultants with expertise in a wide array of products and services that provide solutions for protecting Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and workstations plus notebooks and handhelds. Progent can provide expertise for all major data protection platforms including Acronis Backup and Recovery, Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, HP Data Protector, Double-Take, MozyPro, Retrospect, Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery, and Solaris FLARs. Progent's consultants can assist you to design, enhance, or maintain backup/restore systems for a variety of topologies including local, edge to datacenter, cloud, or hybrid. For more information, see Backup and Recovery Technology Consulting.
Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Backup and Recovery
Double-Take Software offers a selection of products designed to provide small companies a variety of cost-effective solutions for backing up and restoring vital workloads such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Blackberry, and Microsoft SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning consultants have extensive experience integrating Double-Take Software products into small business IT systems to achieve a high state of fault tolerance and business continuity readiness at a budget-friendly price. To learn more, go to Consulting for Double-Take Software for Data Backup.
CRISC-certified Network Risk Management
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) program was initiated by ISACA to validate an IT professional's ability to design, deploy, and support information system control mechanisms to reduce network risk. Progent offers the services of a CRISC-certified consultant to assist you to develop and carry out a workplace continuity strategy that follows industry best practices promoted by CRISC and geared to match your company's risk tolerance, business objectives, and budgetary guidelines. For more information, see CRISC-qualified IT risk control specialists.
Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and offers professional application consulting for a wide variety of business software programs, Progent can help clients to find comprehensive IT solutions that substantially enhance the business value of your network. As a Registered Partner with Cisco, Progent can provide the services of qualified engineers and specialists with experience in designing, implementing and maintaining networking solutions based on Cisco technology. The depth and breadth of Progent's technical experience and Progent's appreciation for the needs of small and midsize companies make Progent the ideal partner for building and running a cost-effective, dependable network.
How to Contact Progent's Experts for Disaster Recovery Solutions Support
In order to get in touch with Progent about technical expertise for workplace recovery planning, call 1-800-993-9400 or send email to email@example.com.