The upstairs toilet is overflowing … any suggestions?

When it comes to good habits, bad habits, no habits, and ignoring the fray, IT is so inundated with fads and follies that it’s easy to get lost in the nonsense while trying to keep the business running. It’s this constant barrage of IT needs versus wants where far too many become confused—or in some cases complacent—about what a business should concentrate on.

And in the light of recent weather events that have hit the Caribbean and coastal United States, the need for concentrating on backup and recovery should far outweigh any other IT trend that is stealing mind share.

But to many, the question remains: what is backup and recovery in the truest sense? Are they in the same category as disaster recovery? And what about business continuity—what in hell does that mean if the other two categories aren’t the same? Most importantly, why should we care about one more than the other? To me, all are equally as important.

It boils down to business need, business scope, and even business model. But before we get too cerebral about business philosophy, let’s take a giant step back to discuss the real issue at hand … toilets. So, what do toilets have to do with disaster recovery you may ask? And, more importantly, have you lost your mind?

The reason I bring up toilets is that it represents the complacency many businesses have when it comes to backup and recovery—all the way through to business continuity. For so many, business continuity is related to what we’ve all witnessed in the past few weeks—horrendous flooding, infrastructure loss, destructive fires, and more—the worst of the worst when we consider a disaster.

But what if something as silly as the upstairs toilet overflows, leaks through the ceiling, and systematically fries several if not all servers you have sitting in a closet at the back of your office? If all your applications and data are suddenly rendered inoperable, at what point on the disaster scale does a toilet sit as opposed to a major flood? Basically, it’s the same damn thing.

So, what does a company need to do to prepare for all scenarios? It starts with planning and expectations. When something bad happens and infrastructure fails, there are certain systems and data that need to come back online ASAP. Financial records from 1992 can wait, but important applications and customer-facing data needs to be restored in a New York minute. Therefore, planning for any downtime while ensuring a hierarchical recovery and access is paramount.

Then, of course, there are best practices. For instance, something as simple as verifying backups can change a bad day to an okay day—or by not verifying backups it could seriously ruin your day, week, month, and year.

And let’s not forget the other hundreds of steps needed to ensure better backup and recovery: everything from choosing the proper backup method, leveraging policy-based controls for smarter data protection, addressing and troubleshooting potential issues, and so on.

In all, create a plan, implement it, and continually manage it to ensure you realize your intended outcome. By doing so, you’ll be well protected from floods, fires, earthquakes, and perhaps even an enchilada night.