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's Experts
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco consulting experts can help your business to create a cost-effective, high-availability system that resolves major issues covering a wide array of infrastructure technologies and operations including:

Non-stop Internet Access
Progent's Cisco-certified IT engineers can show you how to design an affordable, high availability Internet connection solution that can deliver non-stop Internet access through a wide range of fault tolerant Internet network technologies including non-stop BGP, transparent fail-over, and multiple Internet Service Providers. Progent offers Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert consultants to show you how to utilize the most up-to-date technology for 24x7 Internet connections to implement an economical, fully redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to create fault tolerant Internet availability. For more information, see High Availability Internet Access Solutions.

Virtual Servers
Virtualization is a key part of any current disaster recovery solution. Virtual servers can be configured, re-purposed, copied, and restored rapidly and simply, offering a level of versatility for achieving high-availability impossible to meet with physical servers. Progent can help you to plan and deploy a virtual server solution based on Microsoft Windows Hyper-V, which offers powerful business continuity features such as online backup and live migration. Hyper-V can save much of the time and effort needed for scheduled maintenance, failing over to emergency backup data centers, and restoring business-critical functions. For additional details, visit Windows Hyper-V Virtual Server Consulting Services.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced world-class availability and system recovery to Microsoft's clustering solution. Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this technology and delivers important enhancements offering increased scalability, non-stop storage uptime for server applications, easier administration, faster failover, and more flexibility for architecting clusters. For details, go to Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Integration.

Microsoft Server 2012 R2 Clusters
The cluster feature set incorporated into the Datacenter and Enterprise versions of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 is dramatically re-engineered to simplify the installation, configuration, and management of clusters that offer greater levels of system availability, protection, performance, and versatility. New or enhanced features include cluster verification, revamped setup and installation, unified cluster management, new cluster infrastructure for increased uptime, hardened security and quorum models, elimination of failure points, more disk and RAM capacity, and enhancements for multi-site clusters. For details, visit Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Support.

Network Load Balancing
Progent offers fault tolerant load balancing consulting that addresses system load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN infrastructure routing, and content delivery products including F5 Networks 3DNS. Fault tolerant load balancing solutions for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Metaframe and Access Gateway, Cisco Content Services Switch, Cisco Content Engine and ACNS, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. For more information, see Fault Tolerant Load Balancing.

Non-stop Data Centers
Progent's Data Center consultants can help you find zero-downtime data centers that meet the particular requirements of your company. Fault tolerant colocation sites are especially appealing to small and mid-size businesses because of their affordability and convenience in comparison to pursuing a do-it-yourself approach. Attempting to build an in-house data center with even a basic degree of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for typical small businesses. Progent is ready to help you reap all the advantages of high-availability colocation centers by offering a full range of consulting and support services. For more information, visit High-Availability Internet Data Centers Consulting.

24x7 Interoffice Networking
Progentís branch office connection consultants can help companies achieve non-stop branch office connectivity solutions through redundant system architectures with transparent failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE network engineers can plan and deploy fault-tolerant Inter-office networks supported by zero-downtime EIGRP network routers or fault tolerant OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how multi-path connectivity and transparent fail-over can provide economical 24x7 interoffice connectivity. To read more, see 24x7 Interoffice Networking.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Backup and Recovery Consulting
Progent's certified System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) consultants can assist your company to develop a practical disaster recovery plan, design an affordable zero-downtime network infrastructure, configure a Microsoft SCDPM-powered backup and restore solution, comprehensively validate your system, educate your administrative personnel or local consultants how to manage SCDPM, or provide complete information technology outsourcing such as off-site housing of System Center Data Protection Manager servers in Progent's data center facility. To find out more, visit System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Consulting.

Managed Offsite DPM-based Backup Service
Progentís affordable Offsite DPM Backup Service combines the advanced capabilities of Data Protection Manager with the world-class security and availability features of the Herakles co-location center to deliver continual, transparent backup for as much as 2.5TB of critical data from one or several of your Windows-powered servers. Progent's managed service offering includes all setup, support, and tracking needed for a complete offsite backup system. To learn more, visit Managed Offsite DPM Backup Service Package.

Backup and Restore Solutions Consultants
Progent can provide economical remote support from IT engineers skilled in a wide range of products and technologies that provide solutions for protecting Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and workstations as well as notebooks and smartphones. Progent offers consulting support for all major backup platforms including Acronis Backup and Recovery, Backup Exec, BackupAssist, CrashPlan PRO, Double-Take, Mozy, Retrospect for Macintosh, Time Machine, VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP), and FLARs. Progent can assist your company to implement, upgrade, or maintain data backup systems for a variety of architectures including local, edge to datacenter, cloud-based, or hybrid. For details, visit Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting Services.

Consulting for Double-Take Software for Backup and Recovery
Double-Take offers a selection of tools designed to provide small and midsize companies a range of affordable solutions for replicating and recovering vital workloads including Exchange, SQL Server, RIM Blackberry, and Microsoft Office SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning experts have extensive backgrounds incorporating Double-Take Software products into small business IT systems to create a high level of fault tolerance and business continuity readiness at a budget-friendly cost. To learn more, go to Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup.

CRISC-certified IT Risk Control
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification program was established by ISACA to validate a consultant's skills to plan, implement, and support IS control mechanisms to mitigate network risk. Progent offers the expertise of a CRISC-certified consultant to help your company to create and carry out a workplace continuity or disaster recovery plan that follows leading practices identified by CRISC and geared to align with your company's risk appetite, business objectives, and budgetary guidelines. To learn more, see CRISC-certified IT risk control experts.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and offers high-level application consulting for a wide variety of small business applications, Progent can help customers to arrive at efficient IT solutions that maximize the business value of your information system. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the services of qualified engineers and specialists with experience in designing, installing and troubleshooting networking environments based on Cisco technology. The depth of Progent's technical know-how and Progent's sensitivity to the needs of small and midsize businesses make Progent the ideal resource for creating and running an affordable, high-availability information system.

How You Can Get in Touch with Progent's Experts for Disaster Recovery Solutions Support
To ask Progent about engineering expertise for workplace recovery solutions, phone 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.

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