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Understanding Disaster Recovery: What is Failback?

 

Disaster Recovery and IT SecurityWhen it comes to IT risk management, one of the terms most commonly bandied about is ‘failover’.  This word refers to processes that attempt to recover mission-critical data and systems to an alternate location.  Failover may be necessary in the event that an extensive power failure has crippled company HQ, for example, or if a natural disaster has rendered the premises unsuitable for continued workflow.  Just as important as failover, however, is failback.  This lesser-known term refers to the ultimate objective of most disaster recovery plans: the recovery and return of data and systems to their original status, including a return to their original location when feasible.

Large businesses can often accomplish failover and failback with very little difficulty because they have entire IT departments dedicated to making these processes happen without a hitch.  SMBs, on the other hand, are much less likely to have emergency replacement hardware on hand to patch up a system as needed.  This tends to limit the options for failback.  In addition, SMBs must evaluate their disaster recovery plans in light of the limitations they must deal with in all phases of their operations, including IT security.  These limitations include such things as staffing levels, financial resources, the nature of their existing systems, and the amount of physical space available for IT operations.

A comprehensive solution for failback must take into account the likelihood that the computing environment may have changed during the disaster.  This is a likely scenario if operations need to be moved for any length of time.  Therefore, any failback plan should account for several potential needs.  These include obtaining new hardware as needed to re-create the original operational status the organization had prior to failover as well as enough space for housing this equipment. 

It can be quite tempting during a disaster to cut corners and ‘patch things up’ so that they will work in the short-term, but unfortunately, Band-Aid IT solutions applied ‘just for a few days’ have a way of becoming permanent fixtures in your IT environment.  It is therefore important to do all you can to get your systems functioning normally as soon as possible.  This means, among other things, that you pay attention to IT security provisions.  If, for example, you run without managed security in place for a short time, you may expose vulnerabilities that cyber criminals will be quick to exploit since in the wake of a disaster, they may be trolling for victims.

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