Environment Size: Challenges for Disaster Recovery Planning

Environment Size: Challenges for Disaster Recovery Planning

April 18

When it comes to disaster recovery solutions, accounting for variation in environment size is a challenge. What works like a charm in one environment can actually add to the disaster in another. By identifying some common potential size-related issues, solutions providers can address and plan for challenges before disaster strikes.

Big Enterprises Equal Thin Environments

It is generally accepted that large scale enterprises will have thin environments. This refers to situations where workstations typically don’t hold valuable data. Instead, they are just used to execute applications and query the data from centralized locations which house the critical records and data of the organization. The first thing to do is to ensure that valuable data IS kept in central locations, and if not, to re-engineer the network so it is. This makes backups much easier for retrieval and rapid restoration.

Lack of Centralized Data Servers for Small Environments

Small business environments don’t usually have the need or budget for centralized data servers, however this can be a problem during disaster recovery. Valuable data is often spread across workstations in one location. Each one requires individual reconfiguration and restoration, resulting in more work and increased potential for something to go wrong.

Prioritizing Data Restoration at Many Locations

Unlike smaller businesses, the large IT environments enjoyed by corporations often aren’t restricted to just one commercial office or location. They often have multiple locations across the region, state, or country. In the event of a disaster, data must be restored at each individual location, and steps must be taken to ensure that the data is allocated to the correct location and not restored to one of the other branches or offices. Prioritizing data restoration at multiple sites should be addressed as part of your business data recovery plan, instead of making decisions on the fly while trying to get a business back up and running.

Mobile Restoration

For large environment enterprises with a dedicated mobile server (think Blackberry Enterprise Server), mobile restoration is a priority as communication during the disaster recovery process is critical. This may not be a consideration for small environments as they likely don’t require a dedicated mobile server.

Where are the Backups?

An important challenge of multi-location environments relates to where the disaster recovery backups are actually stored. Cloud-based backup and recovery occurs online but how fast are the business’ connection speeds at each location, and how many locations must be restored? This has a large impact on how quickly an organization can become fully functional, and has a direct impact on the costs of downtime. How Robust is the


The critical relationship between environment size and IT infrastructure becomes apparent during disaster recovery and restoration. When regularly scheduled backups are performed, data is stored in increments over the course of hours or days. However, when data recovery and restoration occurs, all that collective data must be transferred in a matter of minutes or hours. The larger the environment, the more strain there is on the infrastructure. Though there may be an effective and efficient back up plan in place, there may not be the same capability to restore an entire large IT enterprise in one shot. Some questions to consider include:

  • When executing restoration and the system comes back online, can the infrastructure support the sudden spike in data queries?
  • Will the disaster recovery hamper systems, software, or anything still functional until everything is back up and running?
  • Does the business have the computing power to decompress and in some cases decrypt terabytes and terabytes of data? Typically backup solutions include a compression feature to minimize the space required.

Restoration Staggering for Large Environments

One solution to meeting disaster recovery challenges in large environments is by using restoration staggering. This entails storing critical systems on separate servers and staggering their data recovery. For example, an engineering firm depends on its Computer Assisted Drafting (CAD) data and rendering systems. By keeping the office communication system independent from those servers, communication can continue during restoration. Photo Credit: seanmcgrath via Compfight cc [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf]