Thursday I missed my deadline. I hate missing a deadline, but I missed this week’s deadline all the same. There are no excuses for missing a deadline. When you miss a deadline it is all on you. My apologies if you were looking forward to an article from me on Thursday. I’ll do better in the future.
So what happened Thursday and how does it relate to IT? First I will explain the situation, and then I will translate it into an example of IT disaster recovery planning.
My car had issues driving home from work Thursday night and it became my top priority. The time that I use for writing my blog articles was usurped by my enacting a “disaster recovery plan” for ensuring that I have reliable transportation for getting to and from work and meetings with my clients.
The first thing that I did was acknowledge that upon reaching my home I should not continue to drive my car based upon the situation (my car started shuddering and dashboard lights began blinking when I reached a speed of 50mph). I then sent an email to the appropriate people informing them that I would be working from home the next day. I then did whatever work I could get done Thursday night so that I could get a full day’s work done from home on Friday, as well as to bring my car to the local dealership and get a loaner vehicle. I then worked from home on Friday using my company’s VPN and single number reach solutions, so that I had full access to all of the systems that I need in order to do my job and I could accept calls just as if I was in the office. The only thing that was missing was the face-to-face communication that is so important to my job, but that I can operate without for a single day.
By the end of Friday I had finished a great deal of work, had my car at the shop, and was given a loaner to use while my car is being repaired (for those who are curious the shuddering was caused by a faulty thermostat that is under warranty). I did not meet all of my obligations such as posting my blog article, but I was able to conduct business without interruption on Friday as well as begin the process of getting back to my normal routine.
How does the above relate to IT and disaster recovery plans?
I was prepared for the unpredictable. I had a lot of information and resources available to me before the disaster struck. I already had my VPN software configured and ready to go. My single number reach phone system was already configured and operational so that my mobile phone would receive all of my office number calls. I knew who I had to contact and how to reach them to declare that I would be working from home the next day. I also knew what dealership I was going to bring my car to, and that they would provide me with a loaner vehicle if the work justified it.
What if I did not have all of this in place before the unpredictable breakdown of a single vehicle component had occurred? What if I had no idea who to contact, how to contact them, where to take my car for repairs, how to acquire a loaner vehicle, and how to work from home in a highly productive manner? Without all of that planning and preparation done before this minor “disaster” had occurred I would have had to take Friday off. In other words, I could not have done business.
Look at your IT infrastructure and now imagine that it just “shuddered and all of the engine lights started blinking” during normal operations. It cannot be used for some reason. Maybe you had a fire, or perhaps a gas line ruptured somewhere nearby and you must evacuate the building. You have to shutdown your primary datacenter and you will not be able to do business from that location until you discover and repair the problem.
Now can you calmly describe step-by-step how you are going to continue to do business from your disaster recovery site? If not, you will be the victim of an unpredictable event and your business or organization will lose customers and miss opportunities when that occurs. Mark my words – it will occur! That is why you need to have a fully developed disaster recovery plan in place before the unpredictable event occurs. I had no reason to suspect that my car would experience problems on January 31st, 2013, but I knew that I would be ready to work on February 1st, 2013 even if I did not have a car to drive that day.
How will your IT operations be available tomorrow if you lose them today? In a world full of unpredictable events, you can rest assured that a good IT professional already knows the answer to that question.