The need for server recovery software and services, from RAID to Oracle to Exchange, has grown markedly in the past five years, owing mainly to the lower costs of server hardware. In the early part of the century, for example, small to mid-sized organizations tended to purchase and use less high end applications, but as overall server costs began to lessen markedly, the demand for these mission critical programs increased. Now, it’s common to see companies with less than 10 staff members operating a new Microsoft Exchange server, saving their customer data on a RAID server or handling their CRM on a NAS. Use of these products can, however, prove to be a double-edged sword.
The dynamics of a small organization differ hugely when compared with a large organization. Quite naturally, the accountability levels are far higher, and decisions can be confirmed faster, without a meetingdiscussion that has to involve several levels of management. Basically, a “do it yourself” culture often permeates the small organization. With high end mission-critical software, however, this DIY-ethic can actually be hurtful. When server recovery is required due to a crashed hard disk drive, the implications are massive, and it certainly is the least likely possible time to “go guerrilla” and attempt an amateur recovery. Yet, high trust in administrators can create this scenario, which can seriously worsen the situation.
Server Recovery Planning And Your Organization
Does your organization have a server recovery action plan? If it’s like most, it does not. The truth is, most people just don’t expect relatively “safe” server setups like RAID 5 and above to catastrophically fail. This, of course, is why having a plan is so necessary. When the unlikely does occur, panic can follow. Consider these tips when developing your server data recovery action plan:
List Important Resources Now – While it may sound rather obvious, gathering key IT and intellectual resources in preparation for a server failure is something most organizations have not done. All it takes, really, is a small word document listing all key support forums, product update alerts and a hard drive recovery shop that can be relied on when your organization is in a jam. Attempting to gather these details under stress is never good thing, as panic can set in. Of course, panic is the mother of permanent data loss.
Have An Expert At The Ready – When something bad happens to a server, the first instinct is to try to recover hard drives and data without the assistance of a professional. After all, IT administrators typically have a huge base of knowledge to use, and egos may play a role here. This is the typical scenario, but also the worst. Employing an expert that deals with scenarios like database corruption and server hard drive crashes on a daily basis is impossible for most organizations, but having a database of critical expert phone numbers is not. Making use of an expert in times of real emergency is the best idea, as when hard drives and databases fail, taking action yourself commonly makes things worse, and not better.
Have A Backup – Yes, it sounds like common sense. But what many organizations do not preparefor is a complete server hard drive failure. So, for example, a downed Exchange server can take down an organization for hours, even days, during an emergency. Having a daily backup plan and an extra server (a lower end PC, perhaps, with a single drive, but the ability to “instantly connect”) when times are tough means that all server crashes become seamless – thereby greatly lessening the “emergency priority” of the problem. This way, the organization “doesn’t know” that a critical issue has occurred, and it’s business as usual while the systems are restored.
In essence, managing through a data or server emergency is all about planning and preparation. It is the important difference between a well executed server recovery, and an all out panic.