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INDUSTRY INSIGHT

Disaster recovery is a necessity, not a luxury

In today’s increasingly digital society, IT networks are constantly at risk of disruption -- whether it be from malicious actors or unforeseen events like bad weather that can affect network connectivity. This risk of failure is especially harmful to state and local governments, as it restricts citizens’ access to crucial government services.

Knowing this, states invest in disaster recovery (DR) solutions that allow them to quickly restore service to constituents and minimize the impact of potential disruptions. Here are some steps state and local IT leaders should take to prevent failures within their networks.

1. Have a disaster recovery center in place and ready for use

In most cases, organizations have DR centers deployed and ready to go in the event of any disruption. Yet even when properly prepared, situations can arise that will necessitate backup systems that will be able to maintain operations while a problem is resolved. By setting up a backup site, state and local governments can quickly shift workloads to the DR center to ensure continued functionality. 

Oftentimes IT leaders will shy away from adequate DR preparation, citing a lack of time or budget. These common obstacles can be addressed through the use of a disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) solution. This eliminates the need to procure and maintain servers in secondary sites and enables rapid implementation of DR capabilities. 

2. Deploy and test DR technology that suits specific needs

Once the decision has been made to establish DR infrastructure, the next question is what technologies will best fit an organization’s specific needs. Not all DR centers and solutions are created equal. Facing budgetary constraints and shifting priorities, state and local IT leaders should carefully assess how best to achieve preparedness. They should identify mission-critical systems and determine how much infrastructure will be needed to support failover in a disruption scenario, how often backups should be sent to the DR center and how quickly service must be restored in the event of a disaster.

Of course, any DR infrastructure must be tested to ensure it delivers the desired functionality. Regular testing should confirm that the operations are maintained as infrastructure continues to be updated. Through these tests, IT professionals can determine potential complications of disruptions and remediate them ahead of time, reducing the risk of costly downtime when a system is most needed.

3. Establish redundancy and visibility 

When developing a disaster response strategy, IT teams must establish redundancy and visibility for the critical systems within their networks, ensuring that all data is duplicated in real-time. Each system should have multiple data transfer points so that if one fails others can be used. IT leaders must take steps to ensure that a network can continue functioning even when certain points of connectivity in the infrastructure are rendered inoperable. Backups for power sources, storage, servers and networks should all be in place. 

IT leaders should also work diligently to achieve visibility across their infrastructure so that they can quickly and efficiently pinpoint the exact cause of a given disruption when it occurs. Visibility should be approached in a way that will allow IT professionals to find the source of a disruption, while maintaining a holistic view of the situation. With full visibility, IT leaders can see how different pieces of the infrastructure are interacting with each other and make sure that a fix in one area does not cause issues in another. 

Basic steps, significant impact

The steps outlined above represent basic practices that should be top of mind for any IT professional. Developing baseline disaster recovery capabilities is an essential duty for any IT department, as constituents depend on their government to provide reliable and robust infrastructure that allows them to receive essential services whenever they are needed. By following the above steps and working with trusted partners, state and local IT leaders can be confident that they will be buffered against the impact of disruptions and be able to quickly restore critical services when disaster strikes. 

About the Author

Mark Benson is systems engineering manager for SLED at Nutanix.

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