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DR on the Sly

You may have the most cutting edge technology at work, but you're sunk without properly documented disaster recovery procedures, as one major healthcare provider found out through regular, unannounced tests. (See DR Picks Up Steam and Users Describe DR Detriments.)

Chris Panagiotopoulos, IT director of LifeBridge Health, says that was the lesson he learned after doing surprise DR tests last year to see if his hospitals could recover quickly from losing servers in its main data center.

Panagiotopoulos began running DR tests in March 2005 to see if his team could restore the main data center at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore from an identical SAN set up 10 miles away in one of the network's other hospitals. What began as testing of one lost server at a time evolved into integrated testing of all servers simultaneously by last April as recovery times continued to drop.

"We tell them, 'you can always expect at least one unannounced test a quarter,'" Panagiotopoulos says. "Needless to say, they love me for that."

To further endear himself to staff, he doesn't pick testing times randomly. He waits until key personnel are out, to see if their subordinates can facilitate recovery.

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