When it comes to planning for all contingencies in your data
center, not all disasters are created equal. Sometimes much less destructive
threats can put a serious strain on your resources, and traditional disaster
recovery (DR) planning should take these incidents into consideration as well.

In my last column, I discussed security threats
that could compromise your data and some tools to test your network defenses. These
threats and other types of security breaches fall into this category of “less
destructive” incidents. If a physical or digital security attack manages
to compromise your data center, it can result in stolen data and the public
embarrassment of a security breach, which could cost your company significant
financial losses due to lost revenue or possible regulatory fines. All you can
do at this point is survey the extent of the damage, document the weaknesses,
and patch the problem areas as soon as possible.

Another very common type of less-destructive disaster is a
technical emergency. These disasters involve things like insufficient
processing power, system failures that don’t necessarily cause a loss of data,
and other technology-based incidents in which data is not compromised, but
causes productivity to take a hit due to accessibility issues. There are ways
to plan for these problems and avoid them, and there are ways to recover from
them, in much the same way as you would for traditional DR planning.

You can mostly avoid technical emergencies if you carefully
monitor your systems’ performance and capacity, and accurately calculate the
load your systems can handle. There are many tools and suites available that
can assist in this monitoring, such as Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), HP’s OpenView
suite, and IBM’s Tivoli solutions.
There are also less expensive solutions for network and system
to be found that offer more limited functionality on a budget. The
TechRepublic article, “Know your
network monitoring options”
describes some of the basic tools you can
use. These solutions allow you to keep an active eye on what’s going on in your
environment, so that you can adapt and plan for future growth.

It’s difficult to prepare for every situation that your users
can throw at your systems, so having additional equipment and adaptable systems
is a must for those organizations that have rapidly changing and scaling
applications. Many new blade-based server systems have been brought to market
in recent years from IBM,
and others which can allow you to add capacity on little or no notice when
needed, but scale back after the emergency is over. Grid
(such as those solutions from Oracle) can also help scale in a
hurry. The point here is that the only way to prepare for this type of less-destructive
disaster involves careful planning and monitoring, and preparing for every
contingency could become quite expensive. As always, you have to weigh the
expense of implementing safeguards with the amount of risk that your
organization can afford.

No matter what causes the emergency, the end result could be
as harmful to the company as a loss of data is. Planning for this type of
disaster should not take a back seat to more conventional DR planning. Even
companies with smaller budgets can plan and take the necessary steps.

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