Disaster Recovery Planning and Windows Server 2003

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NLDC Monthly Newsletter


Welcome to our June 2015 Newsletter

We aim to provide you with a brief digest of IT information that you will find useful and informative.

Please let us know if this newsletter has been helpful to you. Any feedback will be gratefully received. If there is anything you would like us to address in future issues, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Please email or use the Contact Form on our website

About NLDC?

NLDC was formed by Neil Davies in 2002 to provide independent IT advice to businesses in the North West. We provide the services of an in-house IT Director, but only when you need it.
We pride ourselves on our integrity, competence, value for money and flexibility. To learn more about the kind of things we do, why not take a look at our website or give us a call on 0161 654 4155, we'll be more than happy to discuss any IT or Telecommunications related queries you may have.

Disaster Recovery Planning - Where to start?


Disaster Recovery (DR) Planning is often seen as the responsibility of the IT Team. Whilst the IT Team may well have the largest input to the DR plan, the DR plan itself must be “owned” by the Board. The business has to decide how long it can manage without “normal” operations and how much data it can afford to recreate. These metrics are described as the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and the Recovery Point Objective (RPO). Reducing both these metrics to zero is possible but can be very expensive. Often a balance will have to be struck.

If you need an RTO of less than an hour and an RPO of zero, then a hosted/cloud solution might be the only option. However, given that the chances of your building suffering a catastrophic loss are quite small, you could probably consider an RTO of 1 to 2 days and an RPO of up to 1 day to be acceptable. In this case there are other options that would be far more cost effective than a hosted solution.

When designing a plan, the usual approach is to indentify the key risks affecting the business and then plan to minimise them. This is a sensible and relatively straightforward approach. However, there will always be situations that could not have been foreseen or complications that will thwart the best laid plans.

The key to a successful DR Plan is to consider its development in multiple phases. Once the business has decided what its target RPO and RTO are, the job is to cover the known risks e.g. utility power failure, telephone line failure, loss of access to your building and loss of internet access. These are fairly “easy” events to address. The key here is to evaluate the chances of each known risk occurring, and then try to balance that likelihood with the steps and costs taken to minimise those risks. As each risk is minimised, the impact on the other risks needs to be re-evaluated.

For example, if your building has no history of utility power failure, then a battery backup may well be sensible. If the utility power supply is unreliable, it may be necessary to consider a generator. If your internet link is very unreliable, then moving to the cloud could be very risky for your business.

Once the identifiable risks have been assessed and minimised it is time to deal with the unforeseeable risks. This can be achieved by identifying teams who have responsibility for specific areas of the business and establishing processes for them to use during an emergency. The teams must be able to cope with key personnel not being available and the processes would provide a framework for areas such as communication and problem escalation, both within the business and externally.

As with many projects, it is important to take a holistic approach which involves the whole business when developing a DR Plan. Additionally, it can be very useful to have an outsider involved in the project to provide a different perspective. NLDC can help here, by applying our years of experience to your project, we can help you to deliver a DR Plan that is suitable for your business.

Windows Server 2003... A Reminder


Don’t forget that Windows Server 2003 will be made “End of Life” by Microsoft on 14th July 2015. This means that Microsoft will stop producing security patches for it from this date. Recent surveys indicate that Windows Server 2003 is still in use in over 60% of businesses.

If you still have these servers in your business you must start planning to upgrade/replace them as a matter of urgency. The issue isn’t that they will stop working on the 15th July, they won’t, it’s that Microsoft will stop supporting them and producing security patches. So as time goes on they will become more and more insecure. If you operate within a regulated environment, it is highly likely that the presence of a Windows Server 2003 server on your network would result in a failed audit.

NLDC can provide assistance if you are looking to move away from Windows Server 2003. We can help you to consider the pros and cons of moving to the cloud or keeping your own equipment, without trying to sell you anything. Please visit our website to see how we can help.

And finally...

Don't you just love it when the Government replaces paper based systems with technology? The paper driving licence counterpart ceased to be valid from the 8th June 2015. It is replaced by a code generated by the DVLA website. That is, if the DVLA website can cope.

You would think that in these days of cloud computing and "elastic resourcing" they could over provision the servers until they understood the demand levels and then reduce the provision to stay within budget. Anyway, it could be worse, it's not as if they run the country or anything is it.

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