Developing an effective government disaster recovery plan
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States experienced 18 weather / climate disasters in 2021, with losses exceeding $ 1 billion each. One of the many impacts of these disasters is data loss and corruption, which also occurs as a result of hardware failures, human error and cybercrime.
Fortunately, the federal government has taken steps to help agencies prepare for system failures due to natural, criminal, or unintentional events. Federal agencies can look to frameworks such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Emergency Planning Guide for Federal Information Systems and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Disaster Recovery Framework to guide their planning in order to overcome the effects of natural and man-made disasters.
But while current programs and existing frameworks show government leading the charge, agencies at the federal, state and local levels can go further to ensure the successful deployment of disaster recovery (DR) plans.
Go on the offensive
An aggressive stance in data protection and management is essential in disaster recovery planning. Before a disaster strikes, agencies must closely document every piece of software and hardware. This audit should be continuous and IT managers should ensure that they have the technical support details for each item. This means knowing how many copies of data exist and where they are stored, as well as understanding the applications or systems that need to be recovered and the contact details of the application owners.
In addition to these strategies, agencies can leverage Disaster Recovery as a Service, an outsourced cloud-based model, which can be useful for agencies that do not have the expertise and resources to build and test an effective disaster recovery plan. DRaaS offers greater ease of use and accessibility for technical personnel from any location, while providing significant savings in storage and software.
Agencies should also take advantage of automation, which will allow for a more proactive approach to mitigate data loss. IT managers can eliminate manual, time-consuming, and repeatable processes that hamper necessary disaster recovery planning by automatically testing, documenting, and executing disaster recovery plans.
Automation can easily move from single applications to entire sites. To provide awareness in automated environments, tools such as dashboards give IT teams an overview of target environment states and alert them to potential violations of recovery time goals and point goals. recovery before they affect recovery.
These approaches are critical, but having a disaster recovery plan is not enough. Regular, large-scale testing is a key part of a rigorous disaster recovery plan, especially for multi-site environments. Agencies need to implement and automate test programs, verifying orchestration plans with isolated, low-impact testing of virtual machine backups, replicas, applications, and storage snapshots.
While many of these disaster recovery plans involve solutions implemented by technical teams, every member of the agency should play a role in the disaster recovery plan. IT managers should assign specific strategic and tactical roles to members of the organization and ensure that they are well communicated, including a specified action plan for each stakeholder in the event of a disaster.
Government IT officials who implement an offensive strategy and execute the fundamentals of disaster recovery will reduce risk, save time, and restore confidence for a stress-free recovery. As the number of natural disasters continues to increase and the cost of recovery increases, disaster recovery planning will be vital for the continuity of government agencies at all levels.
Earl G. Matthews is President of Veeam Government Solutions (VGS).