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 Technologies Supported by Progent
Progent's certified consulting experts can help you to build an efficient, non-stop information network that resolves major issues encompassing a broad array of networking technologies and operations such as:

Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and mid-sized businesses an affordable end-to-end solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a fixed monthly rate, ProSight DPS automates and monitors your backup processes and allows rapid restoration of critical data, applications and VMs that have become unavailable or corrupted due to hardware failures, software glitches, natural disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, apps, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's cloud backup consultants can deliver world-class support to configure ProSight DPS to to comply with regulatory requirements such as HIPPA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever needed, can help you to restore your business-critical information. Learn more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud Backup.

Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity experts can assist you to plan and deploy a disaster recovery system based on Microsoft's latest Failover Clustering technologies such as Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade for non-intrusive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for crash-consistent recovery, Storage Spaces Direct for high-performance storage clusters using low-cost hardware, Virtual Machine Load Balancing for enhancing the performance and resilience of Failover Clusters while minimizing capital investment and operational expenses, and Cloud Witness for easy, economical creation of a failover cluster quorum witness. For details, see Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Consulting.

Microsoft Server 2012 Failover Clusters
Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced enterprise-class availability and recoverability to Microsoft's clustering solution. Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on this foundation and delivers important improvements offering increased extensibility, better disk storage uptime for server applications, streamlined administration, faster automatic failover, and additional options for architecting clusters. For details, go to Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Consulting Services.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a component of VMware vCenter that allows you to define, automate and test a repeatable runbook for recovering services rapidly after a breakdown. SRM provides centrally controlled and automated disaster recovery, application mobility, plus non-intrusive site relocation, failback and re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also enables transparent testing for site recovery, upgrades and fixes and can generate audit reports to verify full service recovery, validate Service Level Agreements and prove compliance. Progent can provide the skills of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to assist you to design, deploy, test and administer a disaster recovery system based on VMware Site Recovery Manager.

NetApp MetroCluster High Availability and Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery software suite that uses failover storage clustering with synchronous replication to provide fast, zero RPO disaster recovery between datacenters that are up to 185 miles apart. Progent offers access to a NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can assist you to plan, deploy, manage, upgrade, test and repair a disaster recovery solution based on NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can help you to choose an architecture for your MetroCluster deployment that aligns with your technical requirements and budget. Progent can make sure you adhere to best practices for installing your MetroCluster environment by providing help with tasks such as assigning shelf IDs, determining aggregate and plexes layout, setting up NetApp FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, provisioning switches, implementing a tiebreaker mechanism, setting up a configuration replication network, and verifying your disaster recovery solution to prove compliance with industry standards and government requirements.

Network Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing consulting that addresses network load balancing, load balanced applications, network infrastructure routing, and content dispatching technology such as Cisco Content Engine. High availability load balancing technologies for which Progent offers consulting expertise include Microsoft Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Access Gateway, Cisco Content Services Switch, Cisco Content Distribution Manager and Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. For more information, visit High Availability Load Balancing.

Fault Tolerant Colocation
Progent's Data Center professionals can help you identify zero-downtime data centers that match the particular needs of your company. Fault tolerant colocation sites are especially attractive to small and mid-size companies because of their affordability and simplified logistics compared to taking a do-it-yourself strategy. Trying to build an on-site data center that offers even a basic degree of fault tolerance is too costly for most small organizations. Progent is ready to show you how to reap all the advantages of non-stop data centers by providing a full range of engineering and support services. For more information, visit High-Availability Internet Data Centers Expertise.

Failsafe Inter-office Connectivity
Progentís branch office connectivity engineers can help organizations achieve non-stop interoffice connectivity solutions via fully redundant system architectures featuring automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can design and deploy high-availability Inter-office connections supported by zero-downtime EIGRP routers or fault tolerant OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how redundant connectivity and automatic fail-over offers economical 24x7 interoffice networking. To read more, go to High-Availability Interoffice Connectivity.

Non-stop Internet Connectivity
Progent's Cisco-authorized network consultants can help you build an affordable, high availability Internet configuration architecture that can deliver non-stop Internet connectivity through a broad array of fault tolerant Internet access solutions including non-stop BGP, transparent fail-over, and redundant ISPs. Progent can provide CCIE consultants to show you how to utilize the latest technology for fault tolerant Internet access to create a cost-effective, completely redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other capabilities to create non-stop Internet availability. To find out more, visit Fault Tolerant Internet Connectivity Solutions.

Backup and Restore Solutions Consulting
Progent can provide economical remote access to IT engineers with expertise in a wide range of products and services that deliver solutions for protecting Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX servers and desktops as well as notebooks and smartphones. Progent can provide consulting support for leading backup platforms such as Acronis Backup and Recovery, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist, CrashPlan, Double-Take Backup, MozyPro, Retrospect, Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery, and FLARs. Progent can help you to design, upgrade, or troubleshoot backup systems for a range of topologies such as local, edge to datacenter, cloud, or hybrid. To learn more, go to Backup and Recovery Solutions Expertise.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Backup and Recovery Consulting Services
Progent's certified System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) engineers can help your company to develop a practical workplace recovery plan, implement an affordable fault-tolerante IT infrastructure, configure a System Center Data Protection Manager-powered backup and recovery system, thoroughly validate your DPM system, educate your IT staff or regular consultants how to maintain Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide complete IT outsourcing such as remote hosting of System Center Data Protection Manager machines in Progent's secure data center. For more information, go to System Center Data Protection Manager Consulting Services.

Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Data Backup
Double-Take offers a selection of tools intended to provide small companies a variety of affordable solutions for backing up and restoring business-critical applications including Exchange Server, SQL Server, Blackberry, and Microsoft SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning experts have extensive backgrounds incorporating Double-Take Software products into small company IT systems to achieve a high state of availability and business continuity capability at an affordable cost. To learn more, see Consulting for Double-Take Software for Data Backup.

CRISC-qualified Network Risk Management
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification program was established by ISACA to validate an IT professional's skills to plan, deploy, and support IS control mechanisms to mitigate network risk. Progent can provide the services of a CRISC-certified engineer to help your company to develop and execute a business continuity or disaster recovery plan based on leading practices promoted by CRISC and geared to match your company's risk appetite, business objectives, and IT budget. For details, see CRISC-certified network risk mitigation experts.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Gold Partner and offers high-level application support for a broad variety of small business software programs, Progent is able to assist clients to arrive at complete information technology solutions that optimize the business value of your IT network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the services of certified engineers and specialists with expertise in designing, deploying and managing infrastructure environments based on Cisco technology. The extent of Progent's technical experience and Progent's sensitivity to the needs of small and midsize companies make Progent the perfect partner for building and running an affordable, fault-tolerant network.

How to Get in Touch with Progent's Experts for Disaster Recovery Solutions Support
If you wish to ask Progent about engineering help for workplace recovery planning, call 1-800-993-9400 or see Contact Progent.
















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