IT equipment needs to be supported by services which allow Mirata client systems to continue working should the main source of supply be subject to failure. The provision of standby facilities should reflect the importance of the system to the continuing operation of the organisation.
All Mirata IT systems which are critical to the successful operation of the organisation are included in a disaster recovery plan. The plan specifies the actions that should be taken if part or the whole of the IT system is rendered inoperative. The plan is founded on a risk analysis of the potential threats that could be encountered and the means available to continue operation.
The disaster recovery procedures are layered to tackle the different levels of problem that might occur with client systems and may include:
- Replication of servers at alternative global locations
- Provision of backup storage at alternative global locations
- Single and seamless transfer of all human system and security knowledge
- Single and seamless lockdown of all system and security applications
All Mirata IT solutions rely on three key robust systems:
- Server applications
- Human knowledge
As with any insurance, disaster recovery is only of value should the worst happen. The planning that is done to deal with disasters and the investment necessary to support the plan should be balanced by the level of risk and the potential damage to the organisation should something happen. If the organisation's operations are heavily dependent upon the continued and reliable operation of computer systems, the credibility and even survival of the organisation could rely upon appropriate disaster recovery mechanisms.
In the case of a major fire or other disaster, all computer and communication systems may be lost or disabled. If the organisation needs to restore operations quickly, at least for critical systems, the use of fallback sites may be required. Fallback is generally of use for major system components, such as mini computers or file servers; where PCs are lost, buying new ones may be more effective. Fallback facilities are of two major types: Hot standby and Cold standby.
In both cases all critical systems are replicated in a site away from the organisation's operational buildings. A hot standby facility is ready to take over the main system operations at short notice, all equipment is running and all data is kept in step with the operational systems. Depending upon the nature of the organisation's activities, the time for switch over can vary between minutes and hours. For cold standby all systems are replicated but unoperational. To get the systems running will require bringing them into service and loading the most recent backup data. There may even be a need to update applications, depending upon how frequently the cold standby facility is brought into step with the operational systems.
Deciding upon the appropriate standby strategy will depend upon the effects of loss of IT systems upon the organisation's operations. Hot standby tends to be for safety critical systems or for communication facilities where loss of data or voice traffic could be damaging. For more usual activities, cold standby facilities should prove acceptable, provided that the time to bring the site into service is not excessive. It may be that a mixture of hot and cold standby facilities will provide the best mix for a particular organisation, with critical systems being immediately available and others through cold standby or equipment purchase.
All data within the IT system are protected against loss or corruption through the use of robust backup procedures. These procedures are performed sufficiently frequently to ensure that the organisation is not significantly disrupted should a failure occur within the system.
For Mirata critical system, backups are performed on a daily basis for all operational systems, either through central support or by the end user.
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