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Preparing for a Failure Event

For businesses to recover from failure events, such as a site level disaster or a local server failure, a high availability/disaster recovery (HA/DR) solution for the messaging infrastructure is a must have requirement. The following offers key recommendations for choosing an HA/DR solution for the messaging infrastructure:

End-User Experience. Since a site level disaster can take weeks to recover from, the HA/DR system should be able to provide all essential features and functionality that business users are used to for their day-to-day operations. This includes Outlook, Outlook Web Access (OWA), BlackBerry and iPhone support.

Simple Operation. In a disaster, such as a hurricane or earthquake, critical IT resources may be unavailable. As a result, one-click activation of the HA/DR solution is required. Complex failover/failback steps can lead to operator error and failure. Simplicity is very essential for an effective HA/DR solution.

Data Protection and Recovery. Email servers contain a significant amount of corporate intellectual property and data. An HA/DR plan needs to ensure ongoing data replication, as well as full database recovery in case of failure events.

Database Corruption Protection. One of the most common failure scenarios for email is database corruption. An HA/DR solution should be database aware and perform corruption filtering.

Ongoing Testing. To minimize surprises during an actual disaster, ongoing HA/DR testing should be done at least once a quarter. The HA/DR solution should enable easy testing.

The goal for the IT organization is to provide a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to the business in terms of maximum downtime allowed. The executive team should buy into the maximum acceptable downtime by weighing in the cost to the business of messaging downtime.

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