The Matrix

This article appears as part of a seven-part series on Disaster Recovery planning, regardless of institution size and systems in production. Each article will consist of an activity designed to encourage readers to update their own initial DR plan, or even create a new one.

In a previous post on disaster recovery planning, we introduced the concept of identifying and prioritizing each system on campus that would have a major impact on operations if failure were to occur.

Following the exercise that was presented, institutions should now have a clear picture of what challenges might lie ahead in the wake of a major campus systems outage.

We encourage readers to build upon that initial list in this week’s post and craft a matrix to help guide the decisions that will need to be made.

This week, we are going to ask you to commit to a plan to get to a Plan. As a follow up exercise, update last week's spreadsheet to include an additional column: Preparedness.

In the new column on the spreadsheet, ask your team, “In terms of preparedness (on a scale of 0-100), how close is the institution to being able to restore each system quickly and effectively, based on the priorities that have been set?” Are you near your goal, or is there a lot of work to be done before feeling more confident in your team’s response? 

Make all judgement-based decisions. There is no right or wrong answer in how the to complete the spreadsheet. In fact, this exercise is designed to give you the freedom to make open, honest assessments of your environment. That said, this should not be taken lightly: this is your institution’s sustainability and future infrastructure health. The answers that your team provides will help guide decisions to ensure that the business is secure and its path aligned with its mission.

We understand that planning for disaster recovery takes effort. We also realize that initial true costs are in the time it takes to plan. When we spoke with Isothermal Community College CIO Robby Walters earlier this spring, he told us that part of what drove his institution from idea to action was simply trying to, "Prove that we can do it without any cost involved." Isothermal's team has been working in conjunction with a sister institution to co-locate and implement a disaster recovery plan for its entire IT infrastructure. 

This series on disaster recovery is being written with that exact premise in mind: When emergencies occur, how can one ensure business continuity? The path ahead is clearer than you might imagine.