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Disaster Planning Pays Big Dividends

A D/R plan is essential in today's environment.

A D/R plan is essential in today's environment.

To effectively answer critical questions, you need to engage the business, as well as IT technicians. The business people should be able to answer the question: "What is required to keep the business running?" or, "what can we do without?" If you are like most shops, almost everything with the label Production is required. Otherwise, why would you be running it?

The biggest question is: "Do you bring over development?" I would answer, yes, in general. Without some of their programs and JCL, you may not be able to fix any glitches that you find as you are trying to restart the environment.

Once you've decided on the applications to test, your technicians will have to identify the sub-systems, programs, data, and platforms that have to be involved. I truly do not believe that you can have a successful test if you just do one platform at a time. A major requirement for testing is to ensure the testing of any tasks that were not successful in previous tests. Some items will fail in a D/R test, but it is inexcusable if the same item fails in subsequent tests!

How do you test it?

Your list may vary, but I believe a general test plan consists of the following components:

  • Objective of the test:
      • Why are you testing?
      • What to test (already discussed)?
      • What are the success criteria?
      • Who signs off the success criteria (before and after)?
  • Testing preparation:
      • When are you testing?
      • Which platforms do you pull data from?
      • How do you pull the data?
      • How do you move the data to your test environment(s)?
      • Who are the participants (business, technical, operational, test site)?
      • Do you have a call-in number for testers to check for status or report problems?
  • Doing the test:
      • Have you opened your call-in?
      • Do you have all the contact information?
      • Are any accommodations required?
      • Do you have a timeline (restores, IPL's, tests, environment teardown)?
      • Are you recording the events as they happen?
  • Post Testing:
      • Have you erased the environment at your test site?
      • Have you passed around all documentation?
      • Have you verified events versus objectives and success criteria?
      • Have you got a list of all items that failed (for the next test)?
      • Have you obtained sign-off?

You may have noticed that the above is predicated on the assumption that you are going to a remote site to test. Most shops do that; there are alternatives such as GDPS, or some other within site testing. Again, the exact details are site specific.

Ted MacNeil is a capacity/performance analyst with more than 25 years in the IBM mainframe environment. Ted can be reached at tedmacneil@alumni.uwaterloo.ca.



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