- Assembling the disaster recovery team
The disaster recovery plan must be ready for every organization so that the system of the organization can bring back to functionality in the times of disaster. The disaster recovery plan cannot be created by anyone who knows how the organization works. There must be a special team who works on the creation of the recovery plans for the organization. This team’s responsibility is to take over the disaster and try to bring back the system of the organization as soon as possible. It is only possible if the team has already worked on the disaster recovery plan. If there is not disaster recovery plan, it is not possible to create a plan at the time of disaster and sort out things in an easy manner. The disaster recovery team tries to create the plans to be implemented in the case of disaster, and those plans are also tests during specific span of time, to check the effectiveness of the plan. The testing will show how the team will be able to recover the system and work accordingly. The team contains the experts in the creation of disaster recovery plan. The team does not mean that every member of the team works independently. The team is divided into smaller groups who work according to the plan. In order to create a successful plan, the testing and creation process is also distributed into small problems, so that each small team could work on smaller tasks. The selection of the team members should be done very carefully, as each team member should be aware of technical, business and security so that they can easily restore the system. The small teams should also coordinates with other teams which will tell all the team members about the whole disaster recovery plan.
All the team members will have to work on their own task but keeping the main goal in focus. It will shape a successful disaster recovery plan for the organization. In the selection of disaster recovery team, it is not important to pick up the experts in only recovery, but the persons from FDU who are experts in their departments should be included in the team as well. Such team members are very beneficial, as they will provide insight about the working of their departments which will help in the adding values to the recovery plan. The persons to be chosen from the departments must be at the managerial level, which can provide deeper information. The persons from the IT, Finance, security and other important departments of FDU are to be chosen. It is not necessary to pick up the members of the disaster recovery from the university; the experts from outside the university can also be made part of the team. Here are some of the personals that are included in the disaster recovery team.
- Recovery Manager:
The recovery manager of the disaster recovery team will lead the whole team to achieve the disaster recovery plan for the university. The recovery manager will be the authoritative person and will take decisions about the recovery plan. He is the motivation force in the team, who will guide the team to create a complete disaster recovery plan for the FDU that will recover the system as soon as possible. He will look after the working being done by the small teams and their tasks. He will guide all the team members in the direction to complete their tasks as planned. Only motivation is not the thing required by the recovery manager, but he should be well aware about the working of different hardware and software that FDU uses for processing. It is not possible to get the full depth knowledge of all the hardware and software, but the basic knowledge about them is necessary. It is because he may need to operate those hardware and software in the disaster to recovery the system according to the plan. If the recovery manager is not aware about the working of hardware and software then a delay can occur in the recovery process more than expected. He should be skilled in working under pressure and motivate others as well. The problem solving skill is must, as the nature of disaster may cause to create a new plan at the time when the disaster actually happens.
- Facilities Coordinator:
The second team member needed in the recovery team is the facilities coordinator. The facilities coordinator is also the leading person in the team but in a different domain. He is not the motivational force in the team, but the one who is always coordinating all the facilities needed in order to recover the system. All the facilities that are needed to recover will be provided by the facilities coordinator. There are number of facilities that can be needed at the time of disaster, facilities like, environmental, communication, electrical and many other facilities. He will be responsible for the creation of a schedule that will show the availability of the facilities. The facilities must be provided in a cost effective manner and in the time of disaster.
- Technical Coordinator:
As the name indicates that the technical coordinator is the one who has got in depth knowledge about the setup of different interfaces. Each system has its own interface, in the same way FDU has got a different interface as well. The technical coordinator will be one in the team who is well aware of the university. He will track the right people for the process of creating a diverse team. Once the team will be chosen by the technical coordinator, the recovery process will be performed under his guidance. He must be well aware of the interface of as many systems as possible, because he will have to communicate with different vendors about the installation processes in the recovery of the plan. The technical coordinate will be responsible for the implementation of the disaster recovery plan.
- Application Coordinator: The application coordinator is the one who is well aware of working of all applications running in the FDU. He is the one who will be taking care of the application processes in the recovery plan. He should have knowledge about all the applications running in the university, because his job is to restore the system in case of disaster. The best person for this task should be selected from the application support group. He will know how to use different applications and play a vital role in the creation of the disaster recovery plan. There are different applications running in the university covering the payroll, student information and accounts payable and receivables. These applications are the responsibility of application coordinator who will work on these applications and restore the database objects. The status of the files should be regained by the application coordination.
- Computer Operations Coordinator: The recovery team should have a person who can make the availability of the system even on the temporary basis. The computer operations coordinator is the one who should be have knowledge about the operations in the systems and the software being used in the university. The computer operation coordinator will be a great aid for the recreation of production schedules for the system software in FDU. He will also be helpful to other people for accessing the computer system.
- Administrative Coordinator:
The disaster recovery team needs a person who is friendly and is aware of the business operations going on in the university. This person is called the administrative coordinator. The administrative coordinator needs to know all the operation in FDU, not for only one department. He should have knowledge about the different departments of the university and the operations being performed. The administrative coordinator should be friendly as he will have to deal will the people working on the recovery plan. The people working on the disaster recovery plan and implementation are under stress and the communication with such people needs to have some special communication skills.
- Network Coordinator:
The network coordinate in the disaster recovery team is the one who is expert in network operations and structure in FDU. He needs not to communicate to the people who are working under high stress or to the vendors. He is only concerned about the networks of the university. He should be aware of the security issues that are attached to the networks. He should be good at the diagnosis of the network so that he can fix the problem quickly. At the time of disaster, the network coordinator has to fix the issues in the network. He must have in depth knowledge about the network architecture so that he can replicate the whole network if needed for the recovery process.
2- Identify and prioritize business functions
Once the disaster recovery team is selected, the next step is the creation of the recovery plan. In disaster recovery planning, it is important to prioritize the process depending upon their affect on the system of FDU at the time of disaster. There are different processes in the university, however can be divided into three categories.
- Learning, Education and Research
- Safety and security
- Business support service
- Learning, education and research:
In this category are the activities that are directly concerned with the university’s academic mission. This covers the lectures, admissions, research, programs, etc.
- Safety and security:
The disaster recovery plan is not only concerned about the recovery of the system of the university, it also includes the safety and security of the students, staff and other visitors in the university.
- Business support service
At the third stage are the activities that are concerned with the business operations in the university. The safeguarding of the assets and the financial viability of the university are also included in this category. Mostly the accounts operations are the main concern.
These processes are being implemented in the university. There are some processes that need to be recovered first of all. For this purpose it is very important to set priority levels to each process so that they can be worked out according to the plan. The priority levels are given as Tier 1 or critical functions, Tier 2 or vital functions and Tier 3 or non critical functions.
Tier 1 or Critical functions:
The functions that are basic or necessary for the organization for its existence come under this tier. The functions are vital for the organization so needs to be restored within the 24 hours after the disaster happened. The functions need to be made secure and restored as soon as possible. These functions include, Communication System, Database System and Safety services. However, it is not possible to setup these functions from the very start after the disaster. These functions are critical and a huge investment and time is needed to recreate them.
Tier 2 or Vital functions:
Vital functions mean such functions that are not critical for the university. It does not mean that those functions are not important for the university. These functions are like student information system, internet connectivity or payroll. These functions are vital or tier 2 functions. It means that the business functions are not much affected by their unavailability. These functions can be restored later on after the tier 1 functions are restored. It is not to worry if these functions take more time in recovery. These systems do not affect the university.
Tier 3 or non-critical:
The tier 3 functions are those functions that are not mandatory for the university. These systems work as a support for tier 1 and tier 2 functions normally. The university can afford to manage without the availability of tier 3 functions. These functions are important for the university, but the university can wait for months till these functions become available and function properly.
3- Identify disaster recovery scenarios
There are two recovery situations in an organization, that apparently seem to be same, but they are quite different to each other; one is the emergency recovery system and the other one is the disaster recovery system. To differentiate these two recovery systems, they can be defined as, emergency recovery system is the one that will not affect the overall system of the organization, and the organization will be able to operate in this situation. On the other hand, in disaster recovery system, there is no way that the organization can operation in disaster, to make the organization operate; the organization has to find a way out.
There are different disaster recovery scenarios that depend upon the type of the disaster. However, to identify the specific scenario to be implemented for the organizations depends on the business impact analysis. This business impact analysis will point out the critical functions and the processes going on in FDU. The business impact analysis is very important in the creation of disaster recovery plan for the university. If the university creates a disaster recovery plan without considering business impact analysis, the critical functions of the university will be affected. This is also like prioritizing the processes during the disaster situation. It will identify which processes and functions need to be restored earlier. This will provide a baseline to differentiate between an emergency and a disaster.
There are some documents called the recovery documents that are used in the creation of a disaster recovery plans. These documents work like instruction to create an appropriate recovery plan accordingly. If the webmail of FDU gets a virus, then the system should be shut down for a while. This is an emergency situation. The system can be restored again when the recovery has been completed. In emergency, the recovery documents can be used to get some instructions. The recovery documents are meant to be consulted in time of emergency. On the other hand, in disaster recovery planning, the university will give the importance to the safety of the systems and the server as well. The web and desktop applications are needed to shut down in this situation till the whole disaster recovery plan is not implemented to recover the system successfully.
Another scenario for the recovery system is that if there is a virus in the database of the university that corrupt the information about the students and the relevant courses. It should not be taken as a disaster. It is an emergency situation. In this emergency situation, it is very easy to recover the data available. The data can be recovered with the help of available backup. Another example relevant to the emergency situation is when the server does not host any of the systems. This emergency can be easily resolved by any hardware solution providers. Moreover, the system can be disconnected from the server till the recovery process of the server is not completed.
Disaster for the organizations and universities are considered to be flood, fire or any other natural disaster. However, if the fire or any other natural disaster that does not damages the system of the university is also considered an emergency. The other case of the emergency is that the check in system of the library is not working. If the check in and checkout system of the library is not working, it can be done manually as well. However, the disaster is totally opposite in nature to the emergency. The university must keep updated all of its disaster recovery documents so that it can face any disaster in future.