The six keys to disaster preparedness: Mock disaster drillsLast week I discussed the importance of choosing a data center services provider with a documented emergency response plan in my list of six keys to disaster preparedness.

Now its time to put that response plan into practice with mock disaster drills. A provider may have seemingly perfect site disaster preparedness plans — on paper! However, only through testing and conducting drills will they truly be prepared for an event. Your provider should test their plans at least twice a year. By conducting simulations of an event, they will be able to verify whether their operations personnel are knowledgeable of their responsibilities and if the infrastructure equipment performs as intended. Look for providers who perform quarterly or similar simulations of equipment failures, power outages and other related critical equipment events that may occur as a result of a disaster. The findings of these mock drills should be documented on an on-going basis, and the training program should be modified as needed to ensure all on-site personnel are well trained in case of an event. In essence, a provider’s disaster preparedness philosophy should be, “If we’re not finding problems when we test our plans and equipment, we’re not testing thoroughly enough!”

Your provider should also be an integral part of your IP network disaster testing. You can run your own network disaster readiness tests, but that, in and of itself, is not enough. As you run tests on your end, ask your provider questions, including:

• What do they see when you fail over?

• Do they have to take corrective action on their side?

• Who should you contact, work with, and escalate to?

Has your provider made any changes to their infrastructure since your last disaster drill that might have changed how your drill needs to be operated?

Service provider networks are fluid — don’t be fooled into thinking that things will stay the same indefinitely. Test regularly to ensure that your service provider’s network hasn’t rendered your disaster preparedness useless!

I’ll end here this week, but stay tuned for the fourth installation in this series — preventative maintenance.