Was that just the wind you felt on your face, or a swoosh of something flying by?
Out of the corner of your eye, was it the tail of a cape you just saw disappearing into the server room?
Have you heard of the IT disaster recovery (DR) superhero team? This is a formidable group of companions, committed to the fast and effective recovery of IT systems and IT services anywhere on planet Earth.
Has your organisation suffered a fire or power failure in the data centre, or IT collapse through hacking or virus attack? From the data stores of Bangalore to the Ethernet LANs of Birmingham, these heroes come to the aid of the stressed and bewildered. They rescue those faced with the colossal task of rebuilding IT services quickly and effectively enough to ensure that their business can continue successfully.
The Human Octopus.
But who are these superheroes? First, there is the Human Octopus. This individual has eight extendable arms; it can reach tapes out of their packing crates and insert them into tape drives, while simultaneously using another hand to cable network ports in the server room. He uses at least four hands to type recovery instructions into PCs, doing the work of several staff in order to save time and achieve recovery within deadlines. Are your IT recovery plans over-ambitious in what can be achieved in the time available? Has your IT department downsized in staff numbers but not made the IT recovery strategy simpler and faster to execute? If so, then hope that the Human Octopus comes to save you.
Then there are the twins, Decipher and Mind Reader. Decipher can understand even the most obscure written recovery instructions. He is able to see the meaning in half-finished sentences, missing references and gibberish which only makes sense to the techy who wrote them. Mind Reader has a different power, she is able to create a psychic mind link with the person who originally wrote the plan years ago (but has since left the business). She can reach her mind into retirement homes and the IT teams of other organisations to find the author and unlock the mysteries of meaning, clarifying dangerous uncertainty.
The DR Monster
Every superhero group needs a big bruiser, and this group has the DR Monster. The DR Monster never sleeps, but growls and works tirelessly through endless recovery tasks and problems. Do not aggravate it, by saying things like “don’t you know we should call it ‘IT service continuity’ not ‘IT disaster recovery’, and it’s all part of business resilience?”, or by walking into the DR room wearing a business suit and carrying a clipboard. Be careful that it does not fix you with its glowing red-eyed stare. When enraged, the DR Monster can only be momentarily appeased by pizza and energy drinks, so beware!
The Calming Queen
Who leads this troop? The Calming Queen glides through the room, her feet never quite touching the ground. With the wave of her wand, angry directors and senior managers relax and decide to take the rest of the month off. After all, they don’t want to stress the IT recovery team and can catch up on playing golf or learning a language instead. Email and the sales database aren’t that important after all. With another wave of her wand, hordes of confused and frustrated users are calmed, and skip around the company car park hand in hand, patiently waiting for the return of IT service.
How do we call on them?
Is there a telephone number? Is there a signal we can project into the clouds at night? Do they listen for the distressed cry of IT managers?
Sadly, the truth is that there is no way to call on them as the IT disaster recovery (DR) superhero team doesn’t exist. I urge you, please never find yourself wishing that they did. The only tools we have during IT recovery are those that we’ve already prepared, in terms of plans, technology arrangements and training.
Think about the IT recovery strategy of your organisation. Are there any gaps in the technology strategy? Is the amount of IT recovery tasks realistic for the IT staff available? Is there missing, incomplete or out-of-date documentation? Would IT staff have to work without sleep or breaks to achieve recovery-time objectives? Is there a reporting and communication element to your plan, to keep the board and business users up to date? Have you set the expectations of the board and senior managers and have they signed off recovery objectives and expectations?
Don’t expect your IT staff to transform into superheroes during IT recovery. They may perform heroics in working to rescue the business, but don’t stake the future of the business on that hope.