A Disaster Recovery Plan Doesn’t Need to be Scary

Your company has insurance covering its buildings and equipment, because everyone knows the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If a natural disaster happens, your physical infrastructure can be repaired and replaced. But too often the same cannot be said for the information infrastructure; at some companies, another old adage is in play: “out of sight, out of mind.” Unfortunately, some disasters that hit information infrastructures are hardly “natural” in nature, yet can be more devastating to a company than an earthquake or fire.

Engineering departments using Adept should have their own disaster recovery plan in place. In many organizations, the Adept installation flies under the IT radar, so to speak. Precautions and backup serving enterprise IT will not necessarily provide the safety net your engineering team requires.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends a seven-part disaster recovery planning process. Your IT group may have a plan based on this set of recommendations; now it is time for your engineering department to have its own version.  Consider the Adept Help Desk as a resource when you work through these to create your own disaster backup plan.

  1. Develop a contingency plan policy guide. In any organization, a coherent policy makes it easy to develop the right plans. It establishes the authority and gives top-level guidance, sorely needed when an emergency hits and things get confusing. Be sure to consider the involvement (or non-involvement) of your corporate IT staff.
  2. Perform an engineering impact analysis. Include hardware, user rights, connectivity, data access, and (as required) job site issues if you are in capital asset side of engineering.
  3. Identify preventive actions. Plan ahead how to reduce the effects of system disruptions. Perhaps you need to streamline and consolidate server access, or prioritize users by access rights. Data backup strategy is important; would your engineering team be OK if they lost 3 days’ work? Or would only 15 minutes lost be a disaster? The right backup plan streamlines the disaster recovery process.
  4. Develop recovery strategies. These are the specific steps required to get your Adept installation back online after disaster happens. Where will you store the recovery server? In what order will you restore service, if multiple offices are involved? How will you retrieve the backup data if Internet service is down?
  5. Create an IT contingency plan. Work closely with corporate IT to draft a contingency plan with detailed guidance and procedures for restoring damaged systems.
  6. Be intentional about testing and training. Work through your plan with various scenarios, and make sure everyone knows their role. Testing disaster plans will identify planning gaps; training will prepare the team for plan activation.
  7. Schedule regular updates and maintenance. A disaster plan needs to be cared for the way you care for a software application or a computer; regular maintenance is required. Your disaster recovery plan needs to be a living document that grows and changes with your engineering needs and activities. Review and update on a regular basis at least yearly.

The Adept support team at Synergis Software has helped many engineering teams recover quickly from disasters. And the more you prepare in advance, the faster our team can assist in the recovery. Here’s three specific tips from the Helpdesk team:

Exploit replication. Adept Vault Replication connects multiple geographic locations with a common Adept Vault. This means all users are always working on the latest version. The Adept Vault structure gives users a unified view of files in globally distributed environments, becoming the backbone in disaster recovery efforts.

Get corporate IT involved. Even though your Adept recovery plan is separate from an enterprise strategy, it is still vitally important to keep IT involved.

Perform regular tests. Run through the Adept DR program at least once (maybe even twice) a year. Many things could happen during the testing process; it is better to catch them before a real disaster hits.

Randall S. Newton is the principal analyst and managing director at Consilia Vektor, a consulting firm serving the engineering software industry. He has been directly involved in engineering software in a number of roles since 1985. More information is available at https://www.linkedin.com/in/randallnewton.

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