December 13, 2016
Why You Need an Updated and Thorough Business Continuity Plan
Business Continuity Plans (BCP) are defined as documents that try to ensure the safety of personnel and assets in case of a disaster.
BCPs are very helpful for a number of reasons:
Extremely useful for employees to know where to go and what procedures to run in case of a disaster
Provides a documented process for recovery of X computers to Y places by using Z procedures
Useful for compliance reasons
Helpful to IT Professionals looking at a solution to provide security in case of a disaster
Reduce your insurance costs (sometimes)
Provides jobs for people documenting things, not joking...documentation is an absolute necessity
However, BCPs don’t really handle the real world spectacularly well with all aspects of what a disaster is, especially if they are not updated. Updates are crucial for a BCP, but how often does someone do the update? Once a month, once a quarter or once a year? Almost as soon as it is written it is out of date. What is a disaster to you anyway? Loss of an email or file, ransomware, power outage? Most of the time BCPs handle the large-scale disasters.
If the BCP process works, great, but when there is an issue or an anomaly on the network, or someone added a server that was not part of the BCP then it is moot. What is important is understanding your Business Continuity solution backwards and forwards. Datto creates tools to make IT service providers’ jobs easier, whether it is SIRIS, NAS, Backupify, or Datto Drive.
A while back, I was on a unique support call. A partner had attempted to do a local virtualization of their file server. The local virtualization worked but their data volume was corrupted because the file server’s RAID failed and was unrecoverable. The Datto was backing up the OS partition, but getting worse and worse copies of the data partition until the eventual failure. The partner used the BCP to do that local virtualization and did a file restore from an earlier recovery point but users needed the file server to be working properly because they had mapped drives all over pointing to the file server.
At the time, we used VirtualBox to run VMs on our devices (now we use KVM, a Tier 1 hypervisor). VirtualBox has an option to add mountpoints to VMs via vboxsvr. The mountpoints then act as shares on the VM being used. I VNC’d into the Datto device and attached the file restore via the vboxsvr protocol and then within the VM removed anything referring to the old volume. Then, I attached the new volume as the same drive letter and allowed sharing. It was a simple solution and the users connected easily and backed up the restored VM. And there was much rejoicing.
A restore option like that doesn’t really make sense to put in a BCP because it would be useful in only a small subset of restores. I only really found out about it because I was messing around in my own environment test all the features of VBox.
The best way to understand your business continuity solution is to take time to test, retest, break, click on a bunch, and google as many things as you can. That offers two benefits, learning is always good in any situation and you will probably be the DR person for your company or organization offering you job security. Granted the DR person for the company tends to get calls at odd hours...but that's why Datto is 24/7/365, to help during the late night fires.