Disaster recovery planning (DRP) is a long and arduous process. The process of creating and even updating a disaster recovery plan is the primary reason that most plans, if they exist, are woefully out of date. In the event of a disaster, most organizations are counting on employees scrambling to recover applications and data in any order instead of following a prioritized, predefined process. The DRP process needs an overhaul. It needs to become more nimble and adaptable to the rapidly changing data center. The first step in the modern DRP process is to perform a recovery capabilities assessment.
A Recovery Capabilities Assessment (RCA) is IT’s analysis of its ability to recover the organization’s applications and data sets. The IT team determines the recovery point and recovery time, as well as other service level objectives (link to the blog on SLOs) for each application and dataset not directly associated with an application. It is a reality check, not what “should be” or “could be” but what is realistic with the current software, hardware, and personnel.
Each application or dataset should have a separate RCA created for it. The goal is to create a series of mini-DRPs eventually. The narrow focus of these plans makes it easier to update them as the environment changes or as new applications come online.
The RCA is, at first, an internal analysis of IT’s recovery capabilities. It should not require outside consulting, testing systems off-line, or meetings with other team members. The RCA project should be quick to complete, much faster than a full-scale disaster recovery plan. Before sharing the RCA with application stakeholders, IT should review the document internally to make sure they can meet its commitments.
When presenting to the application stakeholders, IT should not present the RCA as a DR plan. Instead, IT should present the RCA for what it is, a capabilities assessment. The reaction to the document may surprise IT. 80% of the time the RCA is acceptable at face value, and convertible into a mini-DR plan without any changes. The remaining 20% requires work, either adjustment of processes and upgrades of products or infrastructure.
The RCA is an essential first step in creating a disaster recovery plan that actually works. It also sets the foundation for a DR plan that becomes a living document that is easy to maintain and update so that it is always current no matter when disaster strikes. To learn the rest of the process of creating disaster recovery plans that work attend our on demand webinar “How to Create a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan that Actually Works“.