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 Fault Tolerant Technologies Supported by Progent
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified support professionals can assist you to design an efficient, fault-tolerant IT architecture that resolves critical challenges encompassing a broad range of networking technologies and operations such as:

Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services provide small and medium-sized businesses a low cost and fully managed solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery. For a low monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup activities and enables rapid restoration of critical files, apps and VMs that have become unavailable or corrupted as a result of component breakdowns, software bugs, natural disasters, human error, or malware attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you back up, recover and restore files, folders, apps, system images, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Critical data can be protected on the cloud, to a local storage device, or to both. Progent's backup and recovery specialists can provide advanced support to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with regulatory requirements like HIPPA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever necessary, can help you to recover your business-critical data. Learn more about ProSight Data Protection Services Managed Backup.

Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity experts can assist your organization to plan and deploy a disaster recovery system built around Microsoft's latest Failover Clustering tools such as Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade for non-disruptive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for crash-consistent recovery, Storage Spaces Direct for enterprise-class storage clusters using industry-standard equipment, Virtual Machine Load Balancing for improving the performance and resilience of Failover Clusters while reducing TCO and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for fast, affordable deployment of a stretch cluster quorum arbitration point. To learn more, see Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery Expertise.

Windows Server 2012 Failover Clusters
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced world-class fault tolerance and recoverability to Microsoft's clustering solution. Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this foundation and delivers important improvements offering increased extensibility, better disk storage uptime for server applications, easier management, quicker automatic failover, and additional options for designing failover clusters. For details, visit Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Consulting and Support.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager is an extension to VMware vCenter that allows you to specify, automate and test a repeatable workflow for restoring services rapidly following a breakdown. Site Recovery Manager supports centrally controlled and automated recovery, application mobility, plus transparent site relocation, failback and site re-protect. SRM also supports non-intrusive testing for disaster recovery, updates and fixes and can produce reports to confirm full service restoration, validate Service Level Agreements and demonstrate disaster recovery compliance. Progent can provide the skills of a VCDX certified VMware Site Recovery Manager consulting expert to assist your organization to plan, deploy, test and administer a disaster recovery system powered by VMware Site Recovery Manager.

NetApp MetroCluster High Availability and Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a high-availability and disaster recovery platform that uses failover storage clustering with continual replication to provide rapid, zero RPO disaster recovery between sites located up to 300km apart from each other. Progent can provide the skills of a NetApp MetroCluster expert who can help you to plan, deploy, administer, upgrade, test and troubleshoot a disaster recovery solution built around NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can help you to choose an architecture for your MetroCluster environment that aligns with your technical requirements and IT budget. Progent can make sure you adhere to best practices for configuring your MetroCluster environment by providing help with procedures like assigning shelf IDs, determining plexes layout, provisioning NetApp FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, installing switches, implementing a tiebreaker, designing a TCP/IP configuration replication network between your storage clusters, and verifying your disaster recovery system to prove compliance with information assurance standards and regulatory requirements.

Network Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing consulting that addresses network load balancing, load balanced applications, LAN/WAN infrastructure routing, and content dispatching technology such as Cisco Content Engine. Non-stop load balancing technologies for which Progent offers consulting expertise include Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008 Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Access Gateway, Cisco CSS, Cisco Content Engine and Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. For details, see High Availability Load Balancing.

Non-stop Colocation
Progent's Data Center consultants can show you how to select fault-tolerant data centers that meet the specific requirements of your business. Fault tolerant collocation sites are particularly attractive to small and mid-size businesses due to of their affordability and convenience in comparison to pursuing a do-it-yourself approach. Attempting to design an in-house data center that offers even a minimum level of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for typical small organizations. Progent can help you get all the benefits of high-availability data centers by providing a full array of consulting and support services. To read more, visit High-Availability Colocation Expertise.

High-Availability Inter-office Connectivity
Progentís interoffice connection professionals can help organizations create non-stop interoffice connectivity solutions through redundant networks with transparent failover. Progentís Cisco-premier CCIE network engineers can plan and implement high-availability Inter-office networks supported by zero-downtime EIGRP routers or fault tolerant OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how redundant connectivity and transparent fail-over offers affordable non-stop interoffice connectivity. To learn more, visit Non-stop Inter-office Connectivity.

High Availability Internet Connections
Progent's Cisco-certified network engineers can show you how to design an economical, high availability Internet connection architecture that can deliver non-stop Internet connectivity through a broad array of fault tolerant Internet network solutions including fault tolerant BGP, transparent fail-over, and multiple ISPs. Progent offers CCIE professionals to help you utilize the latest technology for 24x7 Internet connectivity to build an affordable, fully redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other features to create non-stop Internet access. For details, go to Non-stop Internet Access Architecture.

Backup and Recovery Technology Consulting Services
Progent offers economical remote access to engineers skilled in a wide range of products and technologies that provide solutions for protecting Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and desktops as well as laptops and smartphones. Progent offers consulting support for leading backup products including Acronis Backup and Recovery, Backup Exec, BackupAssist, CrashPlan, Double-Take Software, MozyPro, Retrospect for Macintosh, Apple Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery (VDR), and Solaris FLARs. Progent's consultants can help your company to deploy, upgrade, or troubleshoot data backup systems for a range of topologies including local, edge to datacenter, cloud-based, or hybrid. For details, see Backup and Restore Solutions Expertise.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Backup and Recovery Consulting and Support Services
Progent's certified System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) consultants can help your company to create a practical workplace recovery strategy, design an affordable high-availability IT architecture, install a Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager-powered backup and recovery solution, thoroughly validate your DPM system, educate your administrative staff or regular consultants how to maintain Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide extensive information technology support outsourcing such as remote housing of virtual or physical SCDPM machines in Progent's world-class data center. For more information, go to System Center Data Protection Manager Consulting.

Barracuda Backup Local, Offsite and Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is a low-cost, subscription backup and disaster recovery service for small and medium-size businesses. A Barracuda Backup deployment can incorporate a custom-designed physical storage device built by Barracuda or a software-based appliance with similar features but which utilizes your own storage infrastructure. Barracuda Backup protects vital company data generated on-premises, at one or more remote sites, or in the cloud. For disaster protection, you can replicate data to the Barracuda Cloud, to Amazon AWS, or to any site with a physical or virtual Barracuda appliance. Progent is a Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consulting experts can provide a wide range of consulting services to assist your business to design, configure, manage and troubleshoot a BDR solution built on Barracuda Backup. For additional information, see Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consulting and management.

Altaro VM Backup Solutions for Data Protection and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup software offers small businesses a reliable and affordable solution for backing up and restoring Hyper-V and VMware-powered virtual machines. Altaro VM Backup can be used for on-premises, offsite, distributed, and cloud-hosted environments and also supports low-cost cloud backup to Microsoft Azure Block Blob storage. Top capabilities include state-of-the-art Augmented Inline Deduplication to reduce backup storage needs, Continuous Data Protection with backup spacing as little as five minutes for reducing your Recovery Point Objective, advanced encryption, item-level recovery capability for individual files and emails, extensive support for Windows CSV and for VMware vCenter for managing larger deployments, and the ability to leverage Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to back up live VMs with zero downtime. Progent is a certified Altaro partner and can provide a wide array of consulting services to assist you to plan, install, manage and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery solution powered by Altaro VM Backup. For more information, see Altaro VM Backup Consulting.

Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Backup
Double-Take Software publishes a family of products intended to deliver small and midsize companies a variety of affordable solutions for backing up and restoring vital workloads such as Exchange, SQL Server, Blackberry, and SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning experts have in-depth backgrounds incorporating Double-Take products into small business information systems to create a high level of availability and disaster recovery capability at a budget-friendly cost. To read more, go to Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup.

CRISC-Certified Network Risk Mitigation
The CRISC certification program was initiated by ISACA to validate an IT professional's skills to design, deploy, and support information system controls to mitigate risk. Progent can provide the services of a CRISC-certified engineer to help your company to develop and execute a workplace continuity or disaster recovery strategy that follows leading practices promoted by CRISC and crafted to align with your company's risk tolerance, business goals, and budgetary guidelines. To find out more, visit CRISC-Premier network risk control experts.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Certified Partner and offers high-level application support for a broad variety of small business applications, Progent is able to help clients to find efficient information technology solutions that maximize the business value of your IT network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent can provide the expertise of premier consultants and specialists with expertise in architecting, installing and supporting networking solutions built on Cisco technology. The breadth of Progent's technical know-how and Progent's appreciation for the needs of small and midsize companies make Progent the perfect partner for building and maintaining an affordable, dependable information system.

How to Get in Touch with Progent's Engineers for Business Continuity Planning Help
In order to contact Progent about consulting expertise for business continuity planning, phone 1-800-993-9400 or refer to Contact Progent.