This article examines the disaster recovery options that are available in Linux and why it’s your key insurance policy for business continuity.
Every organisation needs a disaster recovery plan and some strategies in place to ensure that their IT keeps running during a period of downtime. This could be caused by a power outage, fire or flood. Not to have one could be costly in many ways – not just financially, but also in terms of lost productivity and time.
Mark Reynolds, Director of Technology at System’s Management specialist LinuxIT, describes having a ‘DR’ plan and strategy as follows: “A disaster recovery strategy is a bit like home insurance; you hope that you’d never have to use it, but when the out of control lorry veers off the road outside your house and ends up in your living room, you’re glad to have it.” Systems reliability management is therefore another crucial topic as prevention is better than cure.
Key challenges: IT disaster recovery plan
IT analyst firm Gartner’s report, ‘Improve your IT disaster recovery plan, and your ability to recover from disaster’, says that there are two key challenges:
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- “Minor discrepancies, omissions and oversights in an organisation’s disaster recovery plan can have a major impact on the time required to recover from a disaster and the associated business impact”;
- “While most organisations claim to have some form of IT disaster recovery plan in place, there are wide-ranging differences in quality, scope and detail level from one plan to another”.
Don’t be out of business
Regarding the costs of not having a disaster recovery plan in place, Reynolds says: “If you don’t have home insurance and your house is demolished, you’ll probably be homeless.” In business terms, this means that at worst your company or organisation will go out of business either permanently or temporarily. So it’s best to avoid cutting corners.
Reynolds recommends carrying out a business risk assessment, which LinuxIT’s IT professional services team can help your organisation complete. It involves assessing the infrastructure to consider which business systems are the most critical. A risk weighting is then assigned to each to assess how each kind of potential disaster could have an impact on the business if a loss were to occur. This includes making sure that any business critical data is assessed and captured.
Develop a ‘DR’ plan:
In Gartner’s aforementioned report, the following process is used:
- Define the scope of the plan;
- Identify key terminology;
- Make the plan easy to use;
- Reference roles, not individuals’ names;
- Address ongoing recovery and failback, as well as failover;
- Consider the types of disaster to plan for.
Top three things to avoid
Reynolds says there are three top things to avoid when planning an organisation’s disaster recovery plan:
- Leaving out some of the systems and data that are business critical;
- Seeing some systems as business critical when they’re not necessarily so;
- Over-engineering a disaster recovery solution - it has to be scaled to the size of the business and the risks involved.
Which Linux systems are available?
Disaster recovery is agnostic; it doesn’t matter which operating system is used. But Reynolds says that clustering, back up, Cloud, hosting and other factors can help to make Linux systems more resilient.
How can LinuxIT help?
LinuxIT’s Linux professional services can help your organisation carry out a risk assessment audit. This will help you to find your Single Points of Failure and make it easier to understand your organisation’s risk appetite.
It’s also possible to outsource disaster recovery, but it will require some due diligence to ensure that your organisation’s prized assets, including its data, are safe. Outsourcing is often less expensive than investing in your own expensive hosting environment. So it’s worth considering, so long as due diligence is at the front of your mind.