Tech Tip: Reflections on how disaster recovery has progressed over the past two years

Take a look at how disaster recovery has progressed over the past two years.

By Mike Talon

After writing about disaster recovery for this audience for two years, I want to reflect on some of the changes I see both inside and outside of this technological niche. Here are a few examples of the huge steps forward in DR technology and mindset.

Line-of-sight horizons

Two years ago, we didn't think about line-of-sight horizons. For the most part, daily local backups sufficiently met nearly all DR plans. We would generally only use daily local backups if a disk resource was lost.

Today, we are constantly striving to move backup and failover systems as far away from the primary facility as budget and timing will allow. We base DR plans on the idea that a natural or man-made disaster will take out an entire building or shut down a city. Therefore, we have to be able to resume operations quickly--and, hopefully, be far enough away not to feel its effects.

Collaboration between security and recovery

Two years ago, it was rare to speak about security and recovery in the same breath.

Today, CIOs and Corporate Security Officers understand that their jobs go hand-in-hand. Lack of security will call forth a digital disaster, and lack of DR preparation could cause all the security measures to be obsolete if we lose the only set of equipment that can handle those measures.

Tape backups

Two years ago, it was the norm for most companies to use tape backups.

Today, replication systems and digital point-in-time copy systems (e.g., Business Continuance Volumes and Volume Shadow Copies) are common for businesses of all sizes. These systems allow for remote operations to take over in the event of a disaster, and allow for versioning, virus-attack recovery, and other concerns. Tapes are effective and necessary in many cases, but they're no longer sufficient as an entire DR plan.

Messaging and instant messaging

Two years ago, most companies considered messaging and instant messaging (IM) fringe applications.

Today, due to new regulations and the ubiquitousness of e-mail, we must protect and archive these applications in order to stay in business. You could lose a huge deal if your e-mail system fails at a critical moment. Or, you can even face legal repercussions, thanks to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other regulations, if you fail to log your IM traffic.

Along with these changes, two years ago, many executives (especially ones overseeing budgets) began to realize that DR operations are a vital and ongoing part of any company. Though we still have a long way to go on that front, after 100 e-newsletters, I'm glad to see that DR operations are finally beginning to take their legitimate place in the corporate world.

Mike Talon is an IT consultant and freelance journalist who has worked for both traditional businesses and dot-com startups.