What is DR?

“What is DR?” -I was recently asked this question after talking about SQL Clustering, Mirroring and the like and the answer is quite simple right? The question was asked not because they didn’t know but because they were interested in what I thought.

After a moments pause I answered, “Disaster Recovery is the ability to restore a companies IT infrastructure to a minimum level required in order for that company to continue operating….”. OK so that wasn’t really a great response and of course DR means different things to different people, so it is probably important that we can be as explicit as possible. When the business asks “Have you got a DR strategy in place”, I personally believe that we should already have established with the Business what they would class as “Recovery”.

Sometimes on failure of a system “recovery” can of course be the process of bringing online a standby system (in an alternate location) and restoring the data to an agreed point in time but in other instances it could mean something entirely different. For example I have supported systems that aggregate disparate data (think of something akin to a data warehouse) and all of this data could be regenerated. Therefore recovery of this aggregate system could simply mean bringing online a replacement empty aggregate server and regenerating it’s data from either the source systems OR DR source systems of the data.

But I think the bottom line is that it is not the role of the IT professional to decide what DR is, our job is to design and implement a solution to an agreed set of recovery point objectives (RPOs) and these in my humble opinion need to be decided by the Business.

Therefore if I was asked this question again my response would probably be something like “Disaster Recovery is the ability to restore a companies system/s to an agreed set of RPOs decided by the Business”. You should note that I have used the word system to reflect the fact that the recovered system may not even be IT based depending upon the Business requirements of your implementation.

The next time someone asks you whether you have a DR strategy in place, have a think about who decided what the requirements were. Perhaps it is time to talk to the Business?

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3 Responses to What is DR?

  1. Joe says:

    Excellent point! I’m regularly asked to help a client create a DR plan, but there are a lot of questions that must first be answered first.

  2. retracement says:

    Thanks Joe, really interested in everyone’s experience with this. I wonder how surprised your clients are to be asked questions about their requirements and how many of them simply assumed they didn’t need to be involved πŸ™‚

  3. Joe Webb says:

    Many assume that it’s just a documentation exercise.

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