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 Non-stop Technologies Provided by Progent's Consultants
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified support professionals can assist you to implement an affordable, high-availability information network that addresses critical problems encompassing a wide range of networking technologies and processes such as:

Fault Tolerant Internet Connectivity
Progent's Cisco-authorized IT consultants can help you design an economical, fault tolerant Internet connection solution that can deliver non-stop Internet connectivity through a wide array of fault tolerant Internet access solutions including non-stop BGP, transparent fail-over, and multiple ISPs. Progent can provide Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert engineers to help you apply the most advanced techniques for fault tolerant Internet connections to implement a cost-effective, fully redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to deliver fault tolerant Internet connections. For details, visit 24x7 Internet Connectivity Architecture.

Server and Network Virtualization
Virtualization technology is a key part of any up-to-date disaster recovery solution. Virtualized servers and networks can be provisioned, updated, replicated, and restored rapidly and simply, providing a degree of versatility for ensuring high-availability impossible to match with traditional physical servers. Progent can assist you to design and deploy a virtual server environment powered by Windows Hyper-V, which incorporates advanced business continuity capabilities that include online backup and live migration. Hyper-V can eliminate most of the time needed for scheduled service, failing over to hot backup sites, and restoring normal network functions. For more details, visit Microsoft Windows 2016 Hyper-V Hybrid Cloud Solutions and Microsoft Windows 2012 Hyper-V Virtual Server Consulting. Progent also offers expert VMware vSphere and vCloud consulting, VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) business continuity consulting and VMware NSX network virtualization architecture and management.

Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity experts can help you to design a disaster recovery solution built around Microsoft's cloud-tested Failover Clustering technologies including Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade for non-disruptive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for zero-data-loss Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Storage Spaces Direct for high-performance storage clusters using industry-standard hardware, Virtual Machine Load Balancing for improving the performance and resilience of Failover Clusters while minimizing TCO and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for fast, economical deployment of a stretch cluster quorum witness. For more information, see Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Expertise.

Microsoft Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Windows Server 2008 R2 brought enterprise-class fault tolerance and recoverability to Microsoft's clustering solution. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on this technology and provides important enhancements offering increased extensibility, non-stop disk storage availability for server applications, simpler administration, quicker failover, and additional options for architecting failover clusters. For more information, see Windows Server 2012 Clustering Consulting Services.

Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent provides high availability load balancing consulting that addresses network load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN infrastructure routing, and content delivery technology including F5 Networks 3DNS. Fault tolerant load balancing solutions for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Windows Server 2003 and 2008 Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Metaframe and Presentation Server, Cisco CSS, Cisco Content Distribution Manager and Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. For more information, see Fault Tolerant Load Balancing.

High-Availability Data Centers
Progent's Data Center consultants can show you how to identify zero-downtime data centers that meet the particular needs of your company. Fault tolerant collocation sites are especially appealing to small and mid-size companies due to of their low cost and convenience compared to pursuing a do-it-yourself strategy. Trying to design an on-site data center with even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is too costly for typical small businesses. Progent can help you get all the advantages of 24x7 colo centers by providing a full array of engineering and maintenance services. To learn more, see Non-stop Colocation Consulting.

High-Availability Branch Office Networking
Progentís inter-site connectivity professionals can help businesses create zero-downtime inter-site connections through fully redundant networks featuring automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE engineers can plan and implement high-availability Inter-office connections based on fault tolerant EIGRP network routers or zero-downtime OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how redundant connectivity and automatic fail-over can provide affordable 24x7 interoffice networking. For more information, see Fault Tolerant Inter-office Networking.

System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Backup and Restore Consultants
Progent's certified System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) consultants can help you to develop an effective workplace recovery plan, implement an affordable high-availability network infrastructure, install a System Center Data Protection Manager-based recovery system, comprehensively validate your DPM system, educate your IT staff or regular consultants how to manage System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide extensive information technology outsourcing services including remote hosting of SCDPM machines in Progent's world-class data center. To learn more, see System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Consulting and Support Services.

Managed Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service
Progentís affordable Offsite DPM-based Backup Service Package incorporates the advanced capabilities of Data Protection Manager (DPM) with the world-class security features of the QTS Internet Data Center in Sacramento to provide continual, non-disruptive backup for as much as 2.5 Terabytes of data from one or more of your Windows-powered servers. Progent's service offering includes all configuration, management, and tracking required for a comprehensive offsite data backup solution. To find out more, visit Fully Managed Offsite DPM Backup Service Package.

Backup and Restore Solutions Consulting
Progent offers economical online access to engineers with expertise in a wide array of products and services that deliver solutions for backing up Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and workstations plus laptops and smartphones. Progent can provide help for all major data protection platforms such as Acronis, Backup Exec, BackupAssist, HP Data Protector, Double-Take Backup, Mozy, Retrospect, Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery (VDR), and Solaris FLARs. Progent's consultants can help you to implement, upgrade, or troubleshoot backup/restore solutions for a range of environments including on-premises, remote, cloud, or hybrid. For details, visit Backup and Recovery Technology Consulting Services.

Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup/Restore
Double-Take Software publishes a selection of tools designed to deliver small and midsize companies a variety of affordable alternatives for backing up and restoring business-critical applications including Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, Blackberry, and SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning consultants have in-depth experience integrating Double-Take Software technology into small company IT networks to create a high state of availability and business continuity readiness at a budget-friendly price. For details, see Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup.

CRISC-qualified IT Risk Mitigation
The CRISC program was initiated by ISACA in 2010 to verify a consultant's ability to design, implement, and maintain information system control mechanisms to reduce risk. Progent offers the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to assist your company to develop and execute a workplace continuity plan that follows leading practices promoted by CRISC and geared to align with your company's risk tolerance, business objectives, and IT budget. To find out more, visit CRISC-qualified IT risk mitigation specialists.

Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and provides high-level application support for a broad variety of small business applications, Progent is able to assist customers to arrive at comprehensive information technology solutions that optimize the productivity of your network. As a Registered Partner with Cisco, Progent can provide the expertise of qualified consultants and specialists with experience in architecting, configuring and maintaining networking solutions built on Cisco technology. The broad scope of Progent's technical know-how and Progent's familiarity with the needs of small businesses make Progent the ideal resource for building and running a cost-effective, dependable information system.

How You Can Access Progent's Experts for Disaster Recovery Solutions Help
To get in touch with Progent about professional expertise for workplace recovery solutions, phone 1-800-993-9400 or refer to Contact Progent.
















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