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Disaster Recovery Pop Quiz

In Disaster Recovery, Practice Makes Perfect—That’s Why We’re Always Practicing

Michael Henry

Regardless of where or when we grew up, we’ve all experienced those same school rituals: the dreaded pop quiz and the PSAT. The pop quiz is on-the-spot testing meant to keep us on our toes, academically speaking. On the other hand, the PSAT has the goal right in the title—it’s meant to help us practice for the real thing, the SAT. It identifies what we already know (and what we don’t) so that we can correct problem areas and be prepared when it really counts.

At Mail-Gard®, we like to model our disaster recovery (DR) exercises on the PSAT approach to testing. Our aim is to practice working with the client’s applications until we’ve got it exactly right! A lot of prep work takes place in advance of the exercise so when the client arrives onsite for the test, we can take full advantage of their presence to learn from them and practice working with their applications to benefit from their uniquely experienced assistance. The exercise shines a light on areas that need to be modified and gives us the opportunity to fix issues before a disaster presents itself.

Why You Can’t Get the True DR Experience with a Mock Disaster

Of course, our clients sometimes have a different goal in mind when they come onsite for an exercise. For example, instead of the practice exercise we expected, the client might want to conduct a disaster drill right then and there. Although we know they’re coming, they don’t provide any specs, grids, data files, etc. until they arrive on site—in other words, a pop quiz! They want to observe us in an unannounced disaster scenario to be sure that we can really do what we say we can do. It’s understandable, and we support our clients’ needs and requirements, but it’s not necessarily realistic.

A DR exercise can never truly mimic a real disaster due to the timing limitations. With a real disaster declaration, the clock starts ticking the minute a client calls our hotline to declare, and our DR team springs into action long before the client arrives onsite to monitor the recovery. Our immediate goal is to begin printing client files within eight hours of receiving the data transmission, and a lot needs to happen internally prior to printing.

A client dealing with a real disaster would never wait until they were onsite at our facility before transmitting the data we need to start the recovery process—to do so would defeat the whole purpose of having a backup DR print-to-mail provider. So when a client comes for an exercise looking for the “pop quiz experience,” they end up watching us do all the internal prep (like set-up, material staging, etc.) that normally occurs before they arrive instead of monitoring a shift of printing and inserting. Most exercises last only four or eight hours, and in a disaster declaration, it can be close to 24 hours between the declaration and having the envelopes ready to mail. That means a four-hour exercise really doesn’t reflect a true disaster drill.

Mail-Gard is the Only Dedicated Print-to-Mail BC/DR Provider

It’s important to remember that Mail-Gard stands apart from our competitors because we are the only dedicated DR print-to-mail provider in the industry. And by “dedicated,” we don’t just mean “steadfast”—although we are that! We mean that our entire business is dedicated to disaster recovery—we are not an outsourcer or a print/mail house in the usual sense. Since we focus on business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery, we spend most of our time testing our clients’ recovery requirements. We conduct an average of three tests per week year-round, and that aggressive testing schedule means we are constantly in set-up/tear-down mode for one client or another. All of those constant changes mean we’re practicing every day to be on demand for whichever client needs us—and our round-the-clock readiness benefits all our clients!

The day may come when you need to call the Mail-Gard hotline for assistance. As the ultimate DR print-to-mail specialist with a 100% successful recovery rate, Mail-Gard has helped many clients recover from disaster over the last 22 years. That record is the best proof we have that disaster-drilling works, and we stand by our success. However, our success is dependent upon a cohesive business partnership with our clients—so we encourage you to come onsite to watch how practice makes perfect.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2018/03/23/disaster-recovery-mock-planning/
Michael Henry


Michael Henry

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