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 Supported by Progent
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco support professionals can assist your company to build an affordable, non-stop network that addresses key challenges encompassing a wide range of infrastructure solutions and processes including:

Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent provide small and mid-sized businesses an affordable and fully managed service for secure backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a low monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup activities and enables fast restoration of vital data, apps and VMs that have become unavailable or corrupted due to hardware failures, software glitches, disasters, human error, 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 images/. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises device, or to both. Progent's backup and recovery specialists can deliver advanced expertise to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory standards such as HIPPA, FIRPA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, when necessary, can assist you to recover your business-critical information. Read more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud Backup.

Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity consultants can assist your organization to design a disaster recovery solution built around Microsoft's latest Failover Clustering tools such as Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade for non-intrusive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for zero-data-loss recovery, Storage Spaces Direct for enterprise-class storage clusters using commodity equipment, VM Load Balancing for improving the speed and fault-tolerance of Failover Clusters while reducing TCO and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for fast, economical deployment of a stretch cluster quorum witness. To read more, see Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Consulting.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 brought enterprise-class fault tolerance and recoverability to Microsoft's failover clustering platform. Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on this foundation and provides significant improvements that offer increased extensibility, better storage uptime for server applications, streamlined management, faster failover, and more flexibility for designing clusters. For details, see Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Integration.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager is a component of VMware vCenter that allows you to orchestrate, automate and verify a consistent runbook for restoring services rapidly after a breakdown. Site Recovery Manager provides centrally controlled and automated recovery, application mobility, and non-intrusive site migration, failback and site re-protect. SRM also allows non-intrusive testing for disaster recovery, upgrades and fixes and can produce reports to confirm full service restoration, validate Service Level Agreements and demonstrate compliance. Progent can provide the support of a VCDX certified VMware Site Recovery Manager consultant to assist your organization to design, deploy, test and manage a DR system based on VMware SRM.

NetApp MetroCluster High Availability and Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery platform that uses failover storage clustering with synchronous replication to provide rapid, zero RPO disaster recovery between datacenters that are up to 185 miles apart from each other. Progent offers access to a NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help your business to design, deploy, administer, upgrade, test and troubleshoot a disaster recovery solution built around NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can help you to select an architecture for your MetroCluster deployment that aligns with your technical requirements and budget. Progent can ensure you follow best practices for configuring your MetroCluster environment by delivering help with procedures like assigning disk pools, arranging plexes layout, setting up NetApp FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, provisioning switches, implementing a tiebreaker, designing a configuration replication network, and verifying your MetroCluster DR solution to verify compliance with industry standards and government mandates.

Network Load Balancing
Progent provides high availability load balancing support covering system load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN backbone routing, and content dispatching products including Cisco Content Engine. Non-stop load balancing solutions for which Progent can provide consulting services include Windows Server 2003 and 2008 Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Metaframe and Access Gateway, Cisco CSS, Cisco Distributed Director and LocalDirector 400 series, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. To learn more, go to High Availability Load Balancing.

Fault Tolerant Data Centers
Progent's Data Center engineers can help you find zero-downtime data centers that meet the specific needs of your business. Fault tolerant Internet Data Centers are especially attractive to small and mid-size businesses because of their low cost and simplified logistics compared to pursuing a do-it-yourself strategy. Trying to create an in-house data center that offers even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is too expensive for most small businesses. Progent is ready to show you how to get all the benefits of non-stop Internet data centers by offering a full array of consulting and support services. To read more, visit Non-stop Colocation Solutions.

Fault Tolerant Interoffice Connectivity
Progentís multi-site connection professionals can help organizations create zero-downtime interoffice connections through redundant networks with automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-premier CCIE network engineers can plan and implement fault-tolerant Inter-office connections based on non-stop EIGRP network routers or fault tolerant OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how multi-path connectivity and automatic fail-over offers economical non-stop interoffice connectivity. To find out more, see Failsafe Interoffice Networking.

24x7 Internet Access
Progent's Cisco-certified network professionals can show you how to design an affordable, fault tolerant Internet configuration architecture that can deliver 24x7 Internet access through a broad array of high availability Internet network solutions including high availability BGP, automatic fail-over, and multiple Internet Service Providers. Progent offers Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert professionals to show you how to apply the most up-to-date technology for high availability Internet connectivity to create an economical, fully redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other features to create fault tolerant Internet access. For details, visit Fault Tolerant Internet Access Architecture.

Backup and Recovery Technology Consultants
Progent offers economical remote access to engineers skilled in a broad range of utilities and services that provide solutions for backing up Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX servers and desktops plus laptops and handhelds. Progent can provide help for leading backup platforms such as Acronis Backup and Recovery, Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, CrashPlan PRO, Double-Take Backup, MozyPro, Retrospect, Apple Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery (VDR), and FLARs. Progent can assist your company to deploy, upgrade, or troubleshoot data backup systems for a variety of architectures such as on-premises, edge to datacenter, cloud, or hybrid. To read more, visit Backup and Recovery Technology Consulting and Support Services.

System Center Data Protection Manager Data Recovery Consulting Experts
Progent's certified Microsoft SCDPM support professionals can help you to develop an effective workplace recovery plan, design a cost-effective high-availability IT infrastructure, configure a Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager-based backup and restore solution, comprehensively test your system, educate your IT personnel or local consultants how to manage Microsoft SCDPM, or provide complete information technology outsourcing services including remote housing of Microsoft SCDPM servers in Progent's data center. To read more, go to Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Consulting.

Barracuda Backup Local, Offsite and Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is a low-cost, subscription-based backup/restore service for small and medium-size organizations. A Barracuda Backup solution can include a custom-designed physical appliance manufactured by Barracuda or a software-based appliance with similar functionality but which uses your own storage hardware. Barracuda Backup protects vital business data generated on-premises, at one or multiple remote locations, or in the cloud. For disaster protection, you can replicate data to the Barracuda Cloud, to Amazon AWS, or to any site with a Barracuda Backup appliance. Progent is a Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consultants offer a wide range of consulting services to assist your business to design, configure, manage and repair a backup and disaster recovery system based on Barracuda Backup. For details, visit Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consulting and management.

Altaro VM Backup Software for Data Protection and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup provides small organizations a reliable and affordable platform for backing up and restoring Hyper-V and VMware-based virtual machines. Altaro VM Backup can be used for on-premises, offsite, distributed, and cloud-hosted environments and also enables cost-effective cloud backup to Microsoft Azure storage. Headline capabilities include state-of-the-art Augmented Inline Deduplication to cut backup storage requirements, Continuous Data Protection with backup spacing as low as five minutes for minimizing your Recovery Point Objective, military-grade encryption, granular restore options for individual files and emails, extensive support for Windows Server Cluster Shared Volumes and for vCenter for handling larger environments, and support for Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to back up online VMs without downtime. Progent is a certified Altaro partner and can provide a wide range of consulting services to help you to design, deploy, optimize and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery solution powered by Altaro VM Backup software. To read more, visit Altaro VM Backup Consulting Services.

Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup/Restore
Double-Take Software offers a selection of tools designed to provide small businesses a variety of cost-effective solutions for replicating and restoring business-critical applications including Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, RIM Blackberry, and Microsoft SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning experts have in-depth experience incorporating Double-Take Software technology into small company information networks to achieve a high state of availability and disaster recovery readiness at a budget-friendly cost. To find out more, visit Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup.

CRISC-Premier Network Risk Mitigation
The CRISC program was initiated by ISACA in 2010 to validate an IT professional's skills to plan, implement, and maintain IS control mechanisms to mitigate network risk. Progent offers the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to help your company to create and execute a workplace continuity strategy that follows leading practices promoted by CRISC and crafted to match your company's risk appetite, business objectives, and IT budget. To read more, go to CRISC-Premier network risk mitigation experts.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Certified Partner and provides professional application expertise for a broad range of small business software programs, Progent can help customers to arrive at comprehensive IT solutions that maximize the business value of your information system. As a Registered Partner with Cisco, Progent can provide the expertise of premier consultants and specialists with experience in designing, deploying and managing infrastructure environments based on Cisco technology. The broad scope of Progent's technical experience and Progent's sensitivity to the needs of small businesses make Progent the perfect resource for building and running a cost-effective, high-availability network.

How You Can Contact Progent's Experts for Business Continuity Planning Help
In order to ask Progent about consulting support for workplace recovery solutions, phone 1-800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.

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