In "Lock IT Down: Live by the Boy Scout motto", we documented one enterprise's ability to withstand a wide-scale incident that rendered many others organizations helpless. At the height of a massive blackout that rolled across the northeast in August of 2003, 80 percent of New York State, it was reported, lost power. Yet, incredibly, at the onset, not a single customer of Con Edison Communication, the subsidiary of Consolidated Edison Company that provides data and voice transport products and services to metro New York City, lost service.Joe Laezza of Con Ed attributed this success to "the time we spent establishing our disaster recovery plan and running drills to test its viability."
Few IT pros doubt the need for complete and tested disaster recovery plans. TechRepublic member DC_Guy lauded Con Edison Communication's preparedness. "While 15 percent of the entire U.S. population was sliding back into the pre-industrial era because its life-support infrastructure is as unprotected from software defect as the Mars Rover, one organization proved that it is both possible and mandatory to apply the principles of risk management to the systems that most desperately deserve them," he said.
Even though the upper management of most companies can appreciate the need for an effective disaster recovery program, why are some still so reluctant to sign off on one in a budget? How can an IT manager successfully make the case for disaster recovery?
"In my experience, I have found disaster recovery to be one of the hardest IT items to sell to management," agrees member Eric9. "They have no problem dumping copious amounts of money into fixing an evident problem: For example, the VP of sales deletes a file by accident twice a week; our current tape drive takes 30 minutes to recover a file; John doesn't like the wait, so you buy a $20,000 tape drive to fix John's carelessness." Most of the time, upper management just doesn't want to budget for a plan for something that may or may not happen. Even seeing major disasters happening all around them, some "higher ups fail to see that although data is stored in a serious safe, it's still not immune to danger. But if that safe disappears and the servers go with it, you don't have a spot of data left in your corporation because $100 a month to store a set of tape offsite is too much."
It's a frustrating scenario. It has led some IT managers, such as member Hershel Dunne, to take measures to distance himself from the final decision. "When I encounter outright resistance or refusal to implement sound proposals, I ask for the decision in writing. This absolves me completely."
Maybe there's a way to convince executives to buy into disaster recovery before it becomes an issue of blame. TechRepublic wants to know: Has your organization adopted a comprehensive disaster recovery program and, if so, how did you make the case for it? Send us some mail or post a message in the discussion following this article. After we hear from you, we'll compile your advice and share it with other members.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.