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Demartek Commentary: Do We Really Need a 50-page Disaster Recovery Plan?

3 March 2010

On the March 2, 2010 Wikibon Peer Incite public call, we discussed how virtualization and cloud computing are influencing business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR). One of the themes that emerged during the call was the notion that virtualization and cloud computing, either together or separately, might allow us to streamline some or all of our DR processes and procedures.

Virtualization and cloud computing both encourage the use of automation to spin up new servers easily and move operating systems and data from one place to another, both tasks that, one way or another, are part of recovering from a disaster. It seems that the everyday techniques used for virtualization and cloud computing processes are ideal candidates to incorporate into DR plans.

Taken a step further, these processes are nearly the same whether the reason is to perform normal operations or recover, so it seems that a separate DR plan can be highly streamlined to refer to standard daily procedures and include only those extra processes required in an emergency. As these processes become more standardized, they become easier to test on a regular basis. This may be optimistic and possibly simplistic, but it may be that a decision to test the DR plan may be as simple as migrating a set of servers and their data to another location. It may even come to the point, using virtualization and cloud computing services, that the “DR manual” could focus more on what should be done for the people involved in the situation and less on the computers and data.

Action Item: Compare the processes used for deploying and moving virtualized computing resources, whether they be local or “in the cloud”, and look for overlap with your DR plans.