It’s 10 o’clock, Do you know where your DR plan is? Part 4 - Using Runbooks for Disaster Recovery

Using Runbooks for Disaster Recoveryby Brian McGinty.

Part 4– Using Runbooks for Disaster Recovery, in our 5-part series on ways to get your Disaster Recovery Plan back on track.

In part 3 of our series we discussed viewing data. In this post I am going to talk about Disaster Recovery runbooks. While a good part of your Disaster Recovery charter is assembling and organizing a great deal of data, there is another major piece – Disaster Recovery planning and testing.

To support a viable Disaster Recovery exercise, you must demonstrate on a regular basis the ability to successfully fail the business to a DR site.

This requires:

  • The creation of a Disaster Recovery plan (high-level).
  • Building Disaster Recovery detailed plans that are frequently referred to as Runbooks, or DR plans.

The detailed recovery plans (runbooks) can be the most challenging because of the manual nature of creating them, coupled with the dependency on different groups to build and maintain them.

TransitionManager Task Management System

Part of that evolution of TransitionManager (TM) over the last 10 years is around the TransitionManager Task Management system. Since TM’s roots are in the migration of applications from one site to another it has the built-in capability to document and hold all the steps needed to get your applications from one site to another – regardless of migration method. Then, when you are ready to execute your DR plan, the steps needed to make it happen are viewed and managed through TransitionManager Task Manager interface (My Tasks, Task Manager, Task Graph, Task Timeline). For any DR event you will have tasks defined to support safe recovery of your systems. The TM Task Management system will track and manage the progress of activity. The granularity of the tasks you track is up to you.

Some of the features offered by the TransitionManager DR Task Management:

  • Listing and graphical view of all steps required to support the event.
  • Use of predecessor and successors to manage event progress.
  • Status of each task in the process.
  • Event timelines based on task timings.
  • Resource planning: Identify specific names, assign names to groups. Assign resources to tasks.
  • As tasks are Started and Completed, duration timings are captured for post mortem review.

Does the Runbook Execute Tasks?

One of the first questions that comes up is – does TransitionManager execute the task? The answer is no, TM generates the tasks, but there are no APIs into your environment to actually execute, for example, the “Shutdown Server” task. While we can automatically generate the runbook, the runbook itself does not execute tasks. TransitionManager orchestrates and tracks activity as the bullet points describe above. Assigned resources are responsible for starting, managing, and completing Runbook tasks.

What enables and builds the tasks and plan is the Recipe. The TM Recipe holds all the data rules your organization has defined to create the steps needed to execute the DR event. To enable as automated a process as possible, our team will work with you to identify those steps that are consistently used based on asset type.

Some simple examples:

  • What steps to take for a physical server, versus a virtual server.
  • What steps to take for a SAN connected server versus a non-SAN server.
  • What steps are taken for an Oracle database, what steps are taken for mySQL.

The list can go on an on, but the key is that for any asset defined and captured in the TransitionManager repository, you can define a step to be generated based on the existence or absence of that asset or a characteristic of the asset.

Once the ruleset is defined, it is incorporated into a Recipe and the Recipe is run against the current in-scope asset list. The result is a Runbook that is visible as a table of tasks, a graphic view of tasks, or as a timeline. If for some reason manual changes are needed, they can be done. But the objective is to define a ruleset that essentially allows the automatic generation of a Runbook when that ruleset is applied to the asset list in TM (or defined subset).

Below is an example of what a completed Task Graph looks like. Similar to the Dependency Analyzer, you can zoom into any task for more detail.

TransitionManager Task Graph

In part 5 of this series, I will talk about other areas in your organization that TransitionManager can make a difference for your Disaster Recovery Process.

Part 2: It’s 10 o’clock, Do you know where your DR plan is? The Data Sources

Part 3: It’s 10 o’clock, Do you know where your DR plan is? Part 3 – Data Viewing

Part 4: It’s 10 o’clock, Do you know where your DR plan is? Part 4 – Using Runbooks for Disaster Recovery


Ready to see how TransitionManager can improve your migration process? 

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