Why Having A Disaster Recovery Plan Is A Failure

I was asked to fill in a supplier questionnaire recently. One of the questions was “Does your organisation have a disaster recovery plan?”. The answer to this for us is “yes”. It’s four lines long and you can find it on Confluence. This is a summary:

“Everyone works from home.”

That got me thinking. Presumably the questionnaire was designed to weed out weak suppliers who haven’t prepared for disasters! I think that having a disaster recovery plan means that an organisation still has a lot of work to do on its infrastructure.

The Cloud Is The Key

Let me explain what I mean. First off, we have two main office units in the same building. If the building burns down (and we all get out alive), we can all work from home without missing a beat. We have accomplished this by not building a lot of weighty infrastructure. Fourteen years ago when we first started out in business, we had servers, phone systems and kinds of other IT stuff. We had critical filing cabinets with important papers in. We had it all. And we had a disaster recovery plan!

Now our email, calendar and other office systems are cloud based. Our product management software is cloud based. Our phone system is cloud based. Our holiday booking system is cloud-based. Our file system is cloud based. Our (insert anything else here) is cloud based.

Everyone in our offices has three computers as a matter of course. One of them is always at their home in case they have to work from home unexpectedly. Our phone system can run from iPads, PCs, phones (!) etc. All of the critical paper documents we used to have are now electronic.

Our Internet connection is fed from two different pipes connected to the building by two different cables coming in from different sides of the building. The connections are provided by two different providers.

Hang On Though…

OK. The building burning down would be a problem. I’d have to mess around with insurance and replace the office furniture and some computers, projectors, TVs and all the other stuff you accumulate to run a business. But the key point here is that from our customers’ point of view (which is the only one that matters), we wouldn’t miss a beat!

The potential disasters that we might face today would be more along the lines of one of our critical suppliers having a major outage or going out of business all together. We’ve tried hard to mitigate this by sticking with cloud providers with a good track record and plenty of cash reserves.

The Bigger They Come The Slower They Change

We didn’t start out this way. Fourteen years ago, the cloud services we use today didn’t exist. For bigger companies, replicating our success will be difficult for all the usual reasons relating to organisational inertia (existing large infrastructure, strange in-house software that needs a VPN, unwillingness to experiment and try new things etc).

Fringe Benefits

We didn’t set out to do this. We were actually trying to create a more flexible workplace for our colleagues so that they could work where they needed to be based on family, personal and other life factors. We also wanted to create a very low maintenance environment. We didn’t want to be focusing on installing Exchange Server service packs… We wanted to focus on the key creative task of building amazing software for our clients. And that’s what we do. And that’s what you should view having to have a disaster recovery plan as a failure, not a success!

Cloud Systems

If you are looking to build a bespoke, cloud based system for your organisation to set your staff free from the obligations of IT infrastructure, fill in the form below to get in touch with us!

Nick McKenna
Nick McKenna is a (polymath) computer programmer and scaled Agile consultant. Nick has been a professional programmer for over 20 years and an Agile guru for nearly as long! Nick's specialities include progressive web app development, mobile app development, the Internet Of Things, Azure cloud development, systems integration, Scaled Agile Framework, Scrum, Lean, LeSS, Scrum At Scale and much much more.

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