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Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions
Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions
Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions
Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions
Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions
Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions
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Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions

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With the cost of disk storage continuing to plummet - some experts believe it …

With the cost of disk storage continuing to plummet - some experts believe it
will soon approach the cost of tape - disk imaging deserves careful
consideration as an inexpensive and easy-to-use component of a contingency
plan. With COOP awareness increasing in government agencies at all levels, Acronis True Image may be the shortcut to compliance that IT organizations need.

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  • 1. Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions
  • 2. Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions In This Paper Excutive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 The State of COOP Planning . . . . . . . . . . . .3 The Challenge of Complying with COOP . . . .4 Using Disk Imaging to Comply with COOP . .4 Acronis True Image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Customer Case Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
  • 3. Executive Summary Recent natural disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, just four years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, have brought into sharp relief the need for contingency planning. Moreover, fears of an avian flu epidemic have kept organizations on edge and forced many to confront the inadequacy of the of their own disaster plans. The Federal government is particularly concerned. Federal agencies are under increasing scrutiny to define and test so called continuity of operation (COOP) and continuity of government (COG) plans. In many cases, disk imaging can be an integral part of these plans. This paper explains COOP and suggests the role that imaging can play in government preparedness. The State of COOP Planning Although COOP requirements are well understood, compliance is far from universal. A survey of 533 IT professionals in government by Larstan Business TABLE 1. THE COST OF DOWNTIME Reports found that, while about 80% of respondents agreed that COOP is integral $1M in lost revenue per to technology purchases and upgrade planning, a third believe their agencies have hour on average not implemented a COOP plan. More than half of the respondents believe that the agencies with which they collaborate don't have a COOP plan in place at all. This is the case even though COOP is one of the top pressing concerns for 2006 as shown in Figure 1. Source: IT Performance Engineering & Measurement Strategies: Quantifying Performance Loss, Meta Group In 2004, the Office of Management and Budget reviewed COOP plans across the Federal government and found that no agency was complying fully with the FEMA guidelines. The 2005 annual security report card from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform gave the U.S. government an overall grade of D+ for the second year in information security, with failing grades to the departments of Homeland Security, State and Defense. The committee specifically cited contingency planning as an area of concern. 3
  • 4. Complying with Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plans Using Disk Imaging Solutions Moreover, while most state and local government agencies aren't required to maintain COOP plans, many are now looking to the Federal government for guidance. Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia and Florida are among the states that now mandate or strongly encourage state agencies to create COOP plans. FEMA is providing guidance on Federal government best practices to aid agencies in those states with disaster planning. The Challenge of Complying with COOP Agency officials say the biggest problem of compliance with COOP is lack of funding. From an IT perspective, the federal guidelines require agencies to give their people access to a local area network, vital records, critical information systems and data, and internal and external e mail and archives. "Agencies should strongly consider multiple redundant media for storage of idle records," the guidelines advise. Cost concerns, however, limit the practicality of those solutions. Backup sites and redundant equipment are expensive to procure and maintain. Creating and implementing a COOP plan can be time consuming and expensive and gets lower priority than activities that generate more visible results. The process involves extensive analysis of an agency's operations and contingency plans for every critical function. In addition, the plan should be rehearsed annually and periodically reviewed and updated, according to Federal guidelines. Fortunately, agencies have considerable latitude in choosing how to design their own plans and some creative approaches to the problem are being formulated. For example, agencies are encouraged to cooperate to share facilities and equipment, thus providing a kind of virtual "hot site" backup without the cost of engaging a commercial service provider. Agencies are also increasingly looking at telework arrangements as a cost effective approach to COOP planning. Federal Computer Week recently cited a program at the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The agency issues laptop PCs to every employee, along with procedures for continuing operations remotely if agency offices are inaccessible. The plan has the dual benefit of reducing office expenses while providing COOP compliance. Using Disk Imaging to Comply with COOP One element that is often overlooked in contingency planning is the importance of backing up applications. Data protection naturally gets top priority. However, the time and manpower required to restore a user's desktop or server to a steady state can be significant, often exceeding six hours for just a single PC. An operating system install may take 45 minutes or more and as many as a dozen applications may be needed for the user to be productive. That's a productivity drain under the best of circumstances. In a crisis environment in which dozens or hundreds of user computers must be recovered within a twelve hour window, it can render an organization's COOP plan dead on arrival. Tape backup is the most common way to back up a server or client system. But restoring from tape is slow and error prone. Some users have reported failure rates as high as 60% for workstation restores. Tapes are also prone to deterioration or simply getting mislabeled or lost. And performing an incremental restore from tape can be unacceptably slow. New options are emerging. In recent years, the dramatic declines in the cost of disk storage have made this storage media an increasingly attractive alternative to tape. When combined with a disk imaging solution it provides a simple, effective way to restore a complete system. A disk image creates a snapshot of the PC or server operating environment including operating system, applications and data and stores it in a hard disk partition. The system can then be restored to a full working state in a matter of just minutes. The images include all user settings, passwords, bookmarks, templates and configuration options, as displayed in Figure 2. It's just like reverting to an earlier point in time. Imaging software allows "snapshot" images to be taken on a scheduled basis so that users can roll back to a version of their operating environment from any point in time. They can even perform an incremental restore. This allows an earlier image of applications, for example, to be used with more current backed up data. 4
  • 5. In a crisis situation, disk imaging can be a life saver. Because a disk based solution creates a backup at the sector level, it can backup everything on the drive, including both user accessible data as well as open Windows files system files, the master boot record (MBR), partition tables and any partition based boot records that traditional file based backup methods overlook. In addition to cutting hours of time out of the restore process, disk imaging eliminates the need for users to go through multiple steps to restore a system, such as reinstalling the operating system, drivers, updates, configuration files, and the data, and multiple reboots in between; that’s because all of this information is contained in the image. Figure 3 provides a comparison of the steps and time required to backup and perform a bare metal restore with a disk based solution versus a file based solution. New technology even enables images to be stored centrally on a server and downloaded to individual workstations as needed. Acronis True Image The Acronis True Image family of disaster recovery and disk imaging software is an award winning solution for this new category of enterprise backup and restore. With Acronis True Image Workstation, users can image an entire disk or just selected files and folders on any networked system running a desktop version of Windows. After a crash, the user has the option of performing a bare metal restore or restoring only selected files and folders. 5
  • 6. Using Acronis Universal Restore, a user can even restore an image created on one computer to a completely different machine or into a virtual machine. And Acronis Snap Restore allows work to continue while the restore process is underway. The Acronis True Image Server family provides similar functionality for Windows and Linux servers. Its exclusive Acronis Drive Snapshot technology can create backups without interrupting critical server operations. The cost of server downtime can be almost incalculable in some situations. Disk imaging provides the fastest and most reliable technology for continuing operations. Customer Case Study Acronis True Image helped the Hardee County Emergency Management Department to continue operations in the aftermath of Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne in August, 2004 "Acronis True Image Server was a godsend" said Don Faulkner, Hardee County IT Specialist. Phones, cell phones, satellite, and radio communication systems were completely wiped away by Hurricane Charley. The only form of communication remaining was email due to the T1 line that was running with a backup generator. "At one point even email communication was at risk because the generator running our server failed, causing the server to crash," said Faulkner. "However, we were able to successfully restore the entire server in 8 minutes using the most recent Acronis image of the server. If we had used our tape based system, a recovery would have taken days". When Frances slammed into Florida a couple of weeks later, Acronis True Image Workstation was used to roll out 10 laptops to replace desktops lost in that storm. "The laptops were bare and needed the operating system and all applications installed," Faulkner said. "Preparing the first laptop took approximately three hours. However, with Acronis True Image Workstation, I was able to deploy all of the remaining nine laptops in just 22 minutes. Acronis True Image saved us once again." Conclusion With the cost of disk storage continuing to plummet some experts believe it will soon approach the cost of tape disk imaging deserves careful consideration as an inexpensive and easy to use component of a contingency plan. With COOP awareness increasing in government agencies at all levels, Acronis True Image may be the shortcut to compliance that IT organizations need. To find out more about Acronis True Image products: For OEM inquiries: Call +1 877 669 9749 Call +1 650 875 7593 E mail sales@acronis.com E mail oem@acronis.com Copyright © 2000 2006 Acronis, Inc. All rights reserved. “Acronis”, "Acronis Compute with Confidence", “Secure Zone”, “Recovery Manager”, “Snap Restore” and the Acronis logo are trademarks of Acronis, Inc. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. All other names mentioned are trademarks, registered trademarks or service marks of their respective owners. Printed in USA. 6

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