Planning a Windows Server 2003 Disaster Recovery
One of my clients asked me to look over their disaster recovery plan. This prompted me to do some research and I was just amazed how many facets there are to the disaster recover business.
Disaster Recovery Conclusions
Make a particular study of case histories, ‘Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are destined to repeat them’ – Santyana.
Identify the skills and technologies you need to: a) Prevent, b) Recover from a disaster. Make sure that the network specialists understand what your business needs.
Few people cover all aspects of Disaster Recovery. Remember that your maximum benefit comes from identifying your weakest link.
Types of disaster – do you have them all covered?
What would you do in the event of each of the following? Which order would you put them in? Most likely =1 least likely = 6.
Hackers and security breaches
Stolen Kit, crime and vandalism.
Fire, storm, flooding, earthquake, which is most likely in your area?
Terrorist attacks, chemical attack.
Beware staff leaving – I was called in to help one company because no-one new how the system worked or even where the servers were! A disaster caused by an outsourcing deal that went bad.
Identify the most likely cause in for your situation. Eliminate two areas as extremely unlikely. Are you resources deployed according to your priorities?
SolarWinds’ Network Performance Monitor will help you discover what’s happening on your network. This utility will also guide you through troubleshooting; the dashboard will indicate whether the root cause is a broken link, faulty equipment or resource overload.
Perhaps the NPM’s best feature is the way it suggests solutions to network problems. Its second best feature is the ability to monitor the health of individual VMware virtual machines. If you are interested in troubleshooting, and creating network maps, then I recommend that you give this Network Performance Monitor a try.
Disaster Recovery – Planning
Plan to identify, then eliminate, single points of failures. Make sure you have duplicate systems for both hardware and software. Will you need replica servers or even a whole mirror site in another location? At the very least store copies of your backup tapes offsite.
Define a strategy for each system. Windows Server 2003 has its own recovery tools, for example, system state. Exchange and SQL have their own specialist database recovery utilities. Failover clustering is great preventative measure.
When it comes to a restore list the service dependencies and then sequence your recovery process. For example, operating system first, SQL program, finally database store.
I find targets are both measurable and motivating. Set targets for availability 99.9 or 99.99. Set timings for recovery. 2hrs for a server, 24 hrs for a site.
Consider the effect on your users and the effect on your customers. If your database goes down customers cannot order, but internal users can still use their workstations. If a virus cripples the email server users may grind to a halt but customers can still keep ordering.
Get executive enthusiasm. Lobby for a champion particularly when it come to financing your disaster recovery plans.
SolarWinds have produced three Active Directory add-ons. These free utilities have been approved by Microsoft, and will help to manage your domain by:
- Seeking and zapping unwanted user accounts.
- Finding inactive computers.
- Bulk-importing new users. Give this AD utility a try, it’s free!