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Disaster or Recovery? December 5, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
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What is the biggest impediment to a successful disaster recovery plan?  Server availability? Network redundancy? Available hosted services?  Price?

The answer: none of these.  The biggest impediment to a successful disaster recovery plan is spouses.

Almost all disaster recovery plans have a step, early in the process, that says “Critical personnel meet at the recovery site.”  This looks great on paper and even works during tests, when travel is planned in advance.

Real disasters usually involve big events: hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, floods, wildfires.  Whatever is forcing you to declare a disaster is most likely affecting your staff and their families.  At some point, your key systems administrator is going to look at his wife and announce that he has to fly far away, for an indefinite period of time, to recover the company data center.

She is going to look at him, surrounded by kids, in a house without power or heat or some other crucial necessity, and give him the unspoken ultimatum: them or us?  And every smart man will put down the suitcase and resume his hunt for power or heat or other crucial necessity for his family.

That’s a smart choice: family always comes before work. But that doesn’t do much for getting your company back online.

Good disaster recovery plans presume that no one, not a soul, will be available for an extended period of time immediately after the disaster.  Once their families are secure, your staff will be able to travel and help with a clear mind, focused on the business issues.  You don’t want them restoring your databases while they are distracted with thoughts of wives and kids who need them at home.

Build a plan that respects your staff and their families, and you’ll have a plan that will actually work in the real world.  Your staff will appreciate it and if that day ever comes, so will your senior management team and shareholders.

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