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.
Additional High Availability Technologies Provided by Progent's Consultants
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified consultants can help your business to implement a cost-effective, non-stop system that addresses critical challenges covering a wide array of networking technologies and operations including:

Non-stop Internet Access
Progent's Cisco-authorized network consultants can show you how to build an economical, fault tolerant Internet configuration solution that can deliver non-stop Internet access via a broad range of fault tolerant Internet network solutions including high availability BGP, transparent fail-over, and redundant ISPs. Progent can provide CCIE professionals to help you utilize the most advanced technology for 24x7 Internet connectivity to create an economical, completely redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other capabilities to create fault tolerant Internet availability. For details, see Fault Tolerant Internet Access Architecture.

Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery experts can assist your organization to plan and deploy a disaster recovery solution based on Microsoft's latest Failover Clustering tools including Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade for non-disruptive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for crash-consistent Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Storage Spaces Direct for enterprise-class storage clusters using low-cost hardware, Virtual Machine Load Balancing for improving the performance and resilience of Failover Clusters while minimizing capital investment and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for fast, economical deployment of a failover cluster quorum arbitration point. For details, visit Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery Help.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Failover Clusters
Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced world-class availability and recoverability to Microsoft's clustering solution. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this foundation and delivers important improvements that offer increased expandability, non-stop disk storage uptime for server applications, simpler management, quicker failover, and more options for designing failover clusters. To find out more, visit Windows Server 2012 Clustering Consulting and Support.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is an extension to VMware vCenter that lets you orchestrate, automate and verify a repeatable process for restoring services quickly after an outage. SRM provides centrally managed and automated recovery, application mobility, and non-disruptive site migration, failback and site re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also enables non-disruptive testing for site recovery, upgrades and patches and can generate reports to verify full service recovery, validate Service Level Agreements and prove compliance. Progent offers the support of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to assist you to design, deploy, test and maintain a disaster recovery solution based on VMware SRM.

NetApp MetroCluster Disaster Recovery Platform
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery software suite that uses failover storage clustering along with continual replication to deliver fast, zero RPO disaster recovery (DR) between sites that are as far as 185 miles away from one another. Progent can provide online or on-premises access to a certified NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help you to design, deploy, manage, upgrade, test and troubleshoot a disaster recovery system based on NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can assist you to choose an architecture for your MetroCluster deployment that aligns with your functional needs and IT budget. Progent can make sure you follow best practices for configuring your MetroCluster solution by providing help with tasks like assigning shelf IDs, arranging plexes layout, provisioning NetApp FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, provisioning Cisco and Brocade switches, implementing a tiebreaker mechanism, designing a configuration replication network between your peered clusters, and verifying your DR system to prove adherence with information assurance standards and regulatory requirements.

Network Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing support that addresses network load balancing, load balanced programs, network backbone routing, and content delivery technology such as Cisco Content Engine. Fault tolerant load balancing technologies for which Progent offers consulting services include Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Metaframe and Presentation Server, Cisco CSS, Cisco Content Engine and LocalDirector 400 series, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. To read more, go to Fault Tolerant Load Balancing.

Fault Tolerant Data Centers
Progent's Data Center professionals can help you find zero-downtime data centers that meet the specific requirements of your business. Fault tolerant collocation sites are especially appealing to small and mid-size businesses due to of their affordability and simplified logistics compared to taking a do-it-yourself approach. Attempting to create an on-site data center with even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for typical small businesses. Progent is ready to help you reap all the benefits of 24x7 colo centers by providing a complete array of engineering and maintenance services. To read more, go to Non-stop Data Centers Consulting.

High-Availability Interoffice Networking
Progentís multi-site network infrastructure engineers can help companies create fault tolerant inter-site connectivity solutions by means of fully redundant system architectures with automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE engineers can design and implement high-availability Inter-office networks supported by non-stop EIGRP network routers or zero-downtime OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how multi-path connections and transparent fail-over offers affordable non-stop interoffice connectivity. For details, go to Failsafe Inter-office Networking.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Backup and Restore Consulting and Support Services
Progent's expert System Center Data Protection Manager consultants can assist you to develop an effective business continuity strategy, design an affordable high-availability network infrastructure, configure a SCDPM-powered backup and restore solution, thoroughly test your DPM system, educate your administrative staff or local service providers how to manage Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide complete IT outsourcing such as off-site housing of Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager servers in Progent's secure data center. To find out more, go to System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Consulting and Support Services.

Managed Offsite DPM-based Backup Service
Progentís affordably priced Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service Package combines the power of Microsoft Data Protection Manager with the state-of-the-art security and availability facilities of the QTS Colocation Center in Sacramento to deliver continual, non-disruptive backup for up to 2.5TB of data from one or more of your Windows-powered servers. Progent's service package includes all setup, management, and tracking needed for a complete offsite backup solution. For details, visit Managed Offsite DPM Backup Service.

Backup and Restore Solutions Consulting Experts
Progent can provide economical remote access to engineers with expertise in a broad array of products and technologies that provide solutions for backing up Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux servers and desktops as well as notebooks and smartphones. Progent can provide help for all major data protection products such as Acronis, Backup Exec, BackupAssist, HP Data Protector, Double-Take, MozyPro, Retrospect, Time Machine, vSphere Data Protection, and FLARs. Progent can assist your company to deploy, enhance, or maintain backup/restore systems for a range of topologies such as on-premises, edge to datacenter, cloud-based, or a mix. For details, visit Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting and Support Services.

Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Backup
Double-Take Software publishes a selection of tools intended to deliver small and midsize companies a range of cost-effective solutions for backing up and recovering business-critical workloads such as Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL Server, RIM Blackberry, and SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning consultants have in-depth backgrounds incorporating Double-Take products into small company IT networks to create a high level of fault tolerance and business continuity readiness at an affordable cost. For more information, go to Consulting for Double-Take Software for Backup.

CRISC-qualified IT Risk Mitigation
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification program was established by ISACA to verify an IT professional's ability to plan, implement, and support IS control mechanisms to mitigate network risk. Progent can provide the services of a CRISC-certified engineer to assist you to create and execute a business continuity strategy based on leading practices promoted by CRISC and crafted to match your company's risk tolerance, business objectives, and budgetary guidelines. To read more, go to CRISC-qualified network risk control experts.

Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Gold Partner and provides professional application support for a broad range of small business applications, Progent can assist clients to find efficient information technology solutions that substantially enhance the productivity of your network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent can provide the expertise of qualified engineers and specialists with experience in designing, implementing and supporting infrastructure solutions built on Cisco products. The extent of Progent's IT know-how and Progent's sensitivity to the needs of small and midsize businesses make Progent the perfect resource for creating and maintaining an affordable, dependable network.

How to Contact Progent's Engineers for Business Continuity Planning Help
In order to ask Progent about engineering assistance for workplace recovery planning, call 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.
















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