In recent newsletters, we discussed common myths about disaster recovery strategies, including why neither tape backups nor remote-only failover operations are sufficient as a sole DR solution. We also discussed why the IT department can't handle business continuity planning (BCP) on its own. Let us look at one more popular disaster recovery myth.
Don't assume that you won't be able to get approval on your proposed disaster recovery budget from upper management. Many administrators are guilty of buying into this myth, and it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Of course, there's never a guarantee when it comes to budget approval. Many times, organizations aren't willing to spend the extra money a strong DR solution requires.
However, there are some steps you can take to lower this chance. In my experience, getting executive management to approve a DR budget comes down to two best practices.
- Make sure they understand the repercussions of failing to approve the budget. In other words, they need to know how the lack of a DR plan could impact the bottom line.
- Make sure they see the DR plan as more than an insurance policy. Explain the additional benefits this plan can offer.
The first part is relatively uncomplicated; create a brief document that details possible failure scenarios, from the minor to the catastrophe. Focus on the most likely potential problems that could occur if you don't implement your proposed strategy.
In addition, offer an alternative to your proposed plan. Clearly spell out the differences between the features you're removing and the protections you could include using the full budget.
You can use this documentation to fully justify your decisions about the DR solution, and it offers nontechnical management a concrete reason to approve the spending.
This documentation can also serve as ammunition for overcoming any objections that surface along the way, an often inevitable occurrence. Keep in mind that having all your ducks in a row in advance means you can provide immediate answers to those trying to stop you with tough questions.
Offer an added bonus
In addition, take steps to convince the powers-that-be that the proposed DR plan isn't just an insurance policy, for which the company foots the bill but hopes never to use. Figure out a way that your DR plan can contribute added value to the company's operations.
For example, consider taking advantage of IBM's Hierarchical Storage Management systems or other labor- and system-saving solutions that you can build around--if not actually into--your DR solution. Incorporating such a system means you can tell upper management that the DR solution is part of the company's everyday data systems, not just something to use in a worst-case scenario that you hope never occurs. Also consider centralized backup, data-versioning, and a host of other solutions that rely on the same baseline components as DR technology.
Of course, there's always the chance that you'll lose the battle, and the powers-that-be won't green-light your DR budget. What do you do now?
First of all, don't trash the documentation. In fact, keep that document safe. And get management's refusal in writing.
When the worst happens (even if it's only a minor data loss), you might need that refusal and the documentation to save your job. Disasters are inevitable, so covering your back may be your only option if you hit a brick wall when it comes to funding.
Mike Talon is an IT consultant and freelance journalist who has worked for both traditional businesses and dot-com startups.