Disaster recovery testing is very important if you want to be assured that the recovery plans you have will work (for the most part at least). Of course, you cannot possibly devise and play out scenarios for every possible technology nightmare. As a CIO or ITDR manager, you have to make some choices about what to prioritize and focus on.
5 Ideas to Simplify Disaster Recovery Testing
Here are just a few ideas on how to simplify disaster recovery testing. Note that sometimes the best way to simplify testing is to look at the bigger picture and simplify the entire process.
1. Prioritize Your Risks
Part of the challenge of risk management is determining what risks would be the most fatal to the business. On a grand scale, this can often be quite easy to determine.
If your business is based in California, for example, you know you need to devise plans to deal with a large earthquake. You may not be so concerned with hurricanes, however.
The challenge is prioritizing those less obvious risks. Talk to your IT front liners. What do they see as a problem? Is it a security gap? How about user error? Focus on these priorities in your testing.
2. Test the Most Challenging Disaster Recovery Testing
As with point one, you may not have the time or resources to test everything. So, after prioritizing based on the most likely disaster scenarios, you will want to focus on what is going to be the biggest headache after the emergency.
Likely, installing an image of a desktop environment for a single user is not something that needs a lot of time or effort. However, your credit card processing and financial transactions need a lot more attention.
3. Farm Out Backup and Disaster Recovery Testing Where Appropriate
Do a thorough review of your in-house capabilities. It is possible that using a third-party backup and recovery service might be the most cost-effective as well as smart. Going back to the example of the earthquake planning, do you really want your backups to be in the same building you are anyway?
4. Make Sure You are Using the Best Tools
Do an audit of your recovery tools and software. Do you need to update your imaging software? Many companies now offer recovery suites that can dramatically simplify the process of backing up and restoring systems and software.
5. Simplify Your Systems
This may seem like it’s not directly related to testing, but it is. If you find, in the process of testing, that you are constantly juggling multiple operating system versions, out-dated software, or competing systems that do the same thing ultimately, you may need to rethink your entire IT strategy. The good news is, by doing so, you will automatically simplify your testing.
Disaster Recovery Testing Doesn’t Have to Be a Nightmare
While it’s never fun to rescue your technology infrastructure from hacks, natural disaster, or gross user error, you can improve your chances. Disaster recovery testing should focus on what is most important, as well as what needs the most care. With the right plan and proper testing, you should be ready to handle the next IT emergency.
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