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When developing a business continuity plan,
most organizations typically start with reviewing their
applications and deciding how the company can best protect them. If
the primary goal is to immediately resume operations at another
location, organizations may soon discover that some systems just
don’t easily lend themselves to protection for one reason or
One reason for this could be due to licensing
issues. If licensing only allows you to install software on one
physical machine, this can create barriers to high availability
(HA) solutions. While it can be technically possible to circumvent
these protections, many software solutions’ design prohibits such
rule-breaking via different methods.
Some systems don’t allow installation on more
than a single server. While companies can often buy multiple
software licenses, this approach can quickly become
Other times, networking itself causes problems
for system protection, a type of problem I’ve addressed in previous
columns. For example, if an application only works when using a
specific IP address, and you can’t make that IP address appear at
another data center, you’re stuck with only one system that can run
The same goes for solutions that require
intense server-specific configuration outside the networking arena.
You may find yourself forced to reconfigure a server at the time of
As we’ve discussed in prior columns, many
applications can pose incredible difficulties when it comes to
either accessing data or resuming operation in another location.
Protection via tape backup is generally an option, but keep in mind
that it doesn’t allow for immediate failover.
First, there’s the issue of the time it takes
to restore the data from the tape. In addition, you need to
reinstall or reconfigure the applications in question. The end
result is that you can’t get the systems up and running immediately
using only a tape backup–but you can bring them back up
So what can you do in these situations? Your
best bet is to create backup hardware in your DR data center and
configure it as closely as you can to the solution in the primary
data center. Make sure you keep copies of the installation media
for your applications in the DR data center, preferably in some
form of fire-proof media safe.
In the same safe, you should also keep copies
of the tapes that correspond to your recovery point objective. For
example, if you can only afford to lose 24 hours of data, you need
to keep a copy of last night’s tape in the safe–not an easy feat
but definitely possible.
By keeping your DR systems “warm,” keeping the
data close at hand, and being ready to restore, you can bring back
even an “unprotectable” system (from an immediate availability
standpoint) within a reasonable timeframe after a major