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 Zero-Downtime Solutions Provided by Progent
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified consulting experts can assist your company to design an efficient, fault-tolerant information network that resolves critical challenges covering a broad array of networking technologies and operations including:

Non-stop Internet Connectivity
Progent's Cisco-certified IT experts can help you build an economical, high availability Internet connection architecture that can deliver 24x7 Internet connectivity via a wide range of fault tolerant Internet access technologies including fault tolerant BGP, transparent fail-over, and multiple ISPs. Progent offers Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert consultants to show you how to utilize the most advanced techniques for fault tolerant Internet access to implement an economical, completely redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other features to deliver fault tolerant Internet connections. For details, see High Availability Internet Connectivity Architecture.

Virtual Servers
Virtualization is central to any current disaster recovery strategy. Virtual servers can be configured, updated, copied, and recovered rapidly and easily, offering a degree of flexibility for achieving high-availability almost impossible to meet with physical servers. Progent can help your company to design and implement a virtualized solution powered by Microsoft Windows Hyper-V, which incorporates powerful business continuity capabilities such as online system backup and live migration. Microsoft Windows Hyper-V can save most of the time needed for scheduled service, switching to hot backup data centers, and restoring normal network functions. For additional information, see Microsoft Windows Hyper-V Virtual Server Consulting Services.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Failover Clusters
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 brought world-class availability and system recovery to Microsoft's clustering solution. Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on this foundation and provides significant improvements that offer more expandability, non-stop storage availability for server applications, streamlined administration, faster failover, and more options for architecting failover clusters. For more information, see Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Consulting Services.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Clusters
The server cluster feature set built into the Datacenter and Enterprise editions of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 is dramatically re-engineered to simplify the installation, configuration, and management of server clusters that offer improved levels of system dependability, protection, performance, and flexibility. New or improved capabilities include cluster validation, easier configuration and deployment, improved cluster management, new cluster architecture for maximum uptime, hardened protection and quorum models, minimization of failure points, more disk and RAM capacity, and improvements for geographically dispersed clusters. For details, visit Windows Server 2012 R2 Clustering Consulting.

Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent offers high availability load balancing support that addresses network load balancing, load balanced applications, LAN/WAN infrastructure routing, and content delivery products including F5 Networks 3DNS. Non-stop load balancing products for which Progent offers consulting expertise include Microsoft Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Presentation Server, Cisco CSS, Cisco Content Engine and ACNS, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. To learn more, visit Fault Tolerant Load Balancing.

Non-stop Internet Data Centers
Progent's Data Center consultants can show you how to identify zero-downtime data centers that match the particular requirements of your business. Fault tolerant off-site data centers are particularly appealing to small and mid-size businesses because of their low cost and convenience compared to taking a do-it-yourself approach. Trying to design an in-house data center with even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for the majority of small businesses. Progent can help you get all the benefits of non-stop colocation facilities by offering a complete range of consulting and support services. To learn more, go to Fault Tolerant Internet Data Centers Consulting.

Fault Tolerant Interoffice Connectivity
Progentís inter-site network infrastructure engineers can help businesses create non-stop inter-site connectivity by means of fully redundant system architectures with automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can plan and deploy high-availability Inter-office networks supported by fault tolerant EIGRP routers or zero-downtime OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how redundant connections and transparent fail-over can provide affordable non-stop interoffice networking. To learn more, visit High-Availability Interoffice Connectivity.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Backup and Recovery Consulting Services
Progent's expert Microsoft SCDPM engineers can assist you to create an effective disaster recovery plan, design a cost-effective fault-tolerant network infrastructure, install a System Center Data Protection Manager-based recovery system, thoroughly validate your system, train your administrative personnel or regular service providers how to manage Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide extensive information technology outsourcing including off-site housing of SCDPM servers in Progent's world-class data center facility. To find out more, see System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Consulting and Support Services.

Managed Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service Package
Progentís affordable Offsite DPM Backup Service combines the power of Microsoft Data Protection Manager with the state-of-the-art security and availability facilities of the Herakles data center to provide continual, non-disruptive backup for as much as 2.5 Terabytes of critical data from one or several of your Windows servers. Progent's service package includes all configuration, management, and tracking needed for a comprehensive offsite data backup system. To read more, visit Fully Managed Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service Package.

Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting
Progent offers affordable online support from engineers skilled in a wide range of products and services that deliver solutions for backing up Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX servers and desktops as well as notebooks and handhelds. Progent can provide consulting support for all major data protection platforms including Acronis, Backup Exec, BackupAssist, CrashPlan, Double-Take, MozyPro, Retrospect for Macintosh, Time Machine, VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP), and FLARs. Progent can help your company to implement, enhance, or troubleshoot data backup systems for a range of architectures such as on-premises, edge to datacenter, cloud-based, or hybrid. For details, see Backup and Restore Technology Expertise.

Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Data Backup/Restore
Double-Take offers a selection of products designed to provide small and midsize businesses a range of cost-effective alternatives for backing up and recovering vital applications including Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL, RIM Blackberry, and SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning experts have in-depth experience incorporating Double-Take Software technology into small company IT networks to create an advanced state of availability and disaster recovery readiness at an affordable cost. For details, go to Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup.

CRISC-certified Network Risk Control
The CRISC certification program was initiated by ISACA to validate a consultant's ability to design, implement, and maintain IS control mechanisms to mitigate network risk. Progent offers the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to assist your company to develop and execute a business continuity plan based on industry best practices promoted by CRISC and geared to align with your company's risk tolerance, business goals, and IT budget. For more information, see CRISC-certified network risk mitigation experts.

Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Gold Partner and offers high-level application consulting for a wide range of business software programs, Progent can assist customers to find complete IT solutions that maximize the business value of your information system. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the support of certified engineers and specialists with expertise in architecting, installing and troubleshooting networking solutions built on Cisco products. The extent of Progent's technical experience and Progent's appreciation for the needs of small and midsize businesses make Progent the perfect partner for creating and running a cost-effective, dependable network.

How You Can Get in Touch with Progent's Experts for Business Continuity Planning Help
To get in touch with Progent about consulting help for business continuity planning, phone 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.
















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