The purpose of disaster recovery testing is to discover flaws in your disaster recovery (DR) plan, so you can resolve them before they impact your ability to restore operations. DR testing should be considered an essential component of maintaining a sound infrastructure. Don’t you think?
Did you know regular IT testing is the only way to be certain you can restore customer operations quickly following an outage. Still, what business has time for regular IT testing? Unfortunately, not enough! Good news: Managed Services Providers (MSPs) can shoulder this responsibility for you – as DR testing is a big part of an MSP’s roadmap of services. In fact, for many MSPs, like CompuData, DR testing is a priority – with typically three key components to executing effective DR testing.
Define the scope of testing: What do you most want to know from a DR test of your organization? Are you testing the ability spin up a virtual machine locally? In the cloud? Both? Is the test conducted in a cloud-based environment that mirrors the production environment? Or, is the scope broader than that? Other tests might go beyond IT—testing an emergency generator, for example. There is no single “right” approach. However, some types of testing can introduce the risk of data loss or corruption. For example, some MSPs go to the length of unplugging a server or
other technology to simulate an outage. When determining the scope of your DR testing, an effective MSP will balance your specific needs, how much disruption you can tolerate during testing, and the amount of time and resources required for the MSP to conduct tests.
Document everything: There are many tools available to document networks, disaster recovery plans, and DR testing results. These tools range from basic and narrowly focused to highly comprehensive and flexible. A capable MSP will know the right tool for documenting your DR status. For example, an MSP might generate network topology diagrams using software such as this online app from Lucidchart. It is important to remember that documentation goes beyond IT components. You should also have detailed contact lists for your customers, technology vendors, and any other pertinent information you might need following a disaster event.
Sharing testing results – regularly: Sharing the results of DR testing gives the MSP the opportunity to illustrate the value of proactive IT measures. One popular approach deployed by leading MSPs is to share results of DR testing during a quarterly business review. Keeping in mind the true purpose for DR testing is to determine – and prevent – disaster recovery issues, it only makes sense to consistently be informed on the status of your IT landscape. You want to identify critical IT vulnerabilities before they impact your business – and your ability to restore business in the event of a disaster. Some MSPs perform live DR testing for their customers to demonstrate the ability to recover following an outage. However, this is not recommended. Depending on the results, live testing can actually have the opposite effect — decreasing your confidence. Allowing an MSP to perform preliminary testing allows the MSP the time to fully explore shady areas in your IT vulnerabilities – and present to you effective solutions for bolstering your IT defenses, as well as overall IT performance.
Be sure to partner with MSP who will support your disaster recovery testing efforts, like CompuData! Ready to get started?