Potential presentation idea: The role of documentation in disaster recovery

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    I seem to be coming up with a lot of presentation ideas that have to do with documentation and tech communication. (Such is the nature of a guy with a tech comm Master's degree, I guess.)

    My latest idea: the role of documentation in disaster recovery.

    A lot of presentations and publications focus on processes, procedures, and techniques when it comes to disaster recovery. However, for this presentation, I focus on the documentation itself. Why is documentation critical for disaster recovery, what role(s) does it play, what kind(s) of documentation exist for disaster recovery, and how can disaster recovery documentation be more effective?

    This idea comes from personal experience; I actually worked for a company that had an office in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

    Would this make a good presentation topic? What do you all think?

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  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172462

    I think it would make an excellent presentation. Make sure to include the ability of people to reach that documentation during DR. After all, if the only copy is in the server room where a fire just was, then it's not terribly useful documentation. @=)

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    Brandie Tarvin (3/11/2016)


    I think it would make an excellent presentation. Make sure to include the ability of people to reach that documentation during DR. After all, if the only copy is in the server room where a fire just was, then it's not terribly useful documentation. @=)

    Yep, already got that in my scratch notes! 🙂

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  • Grant Fritchey

    SSC Guru

    Points: 395211

    Yeah, I think this could make a good presentation. A DR process with little, or inadequate, documentation is going to fail.

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  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172462

    As an added note, I worked for Iron Mountain Records Management when 9/11 happened. I remember well the tales of the New York office getting people up and running right after the disaster.

    Also, remember the difference between DR and Business Continuity. If you want to concentrate on DR documentation, make sure your audience understands you're not covering the BC part of the whole thing. People make a lot of assumptions that they're the same thing when they aren't really.

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    Brandie Tarvin (3/11/2016)


    As an added note, I worked for Iron Mountain Records Management when 9/11 happened. I remember well the tales of the New York office getting people up and running right after the disaster.

    No kidding? You might have dealt with some of my co-workers; we kept our backups at Iron Mountain. (Side note: I grew up in northern Ulster County, not far from the Kingston Iron Mountain facility.)

    Also, remember the difference between DR and Business Continuity. If you want to concentrate on DR documentation, make sure your audience understands you're not covering the BC part of the whole thing. People make a lot of assumptions that they're the same thing when they aren't really.

    Adding to my scratch notes! 🙂

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  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    Steve had suggested that I include some presentation details for scrutiny. So, I'll oblige.

    My presentation is going to be a narrative of what we experienced when 9/11 happened. I had written a lot of documentation to support our department (which was responsible for supporting the company's server infrastructure). Some of the documents I'd developed -- all of which proved to be critical when disaster struck -- included server installation checklists, server room maps, Iron Mountain contacts and instructions, vendor contact lists, and internal contact lists. I'll mention something about how something as (seemingly) innocuous as a wallet-sized internal contact list proved to be critical.

    I'm also going to discuss something we didn't have: a documented, comprehensive disaster recovery plan/strategy. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with that, but I'll probably include a section along the lines of either "lessons learned" or "what we could have done better." (Note: Even though we didn't have a plan, we managed to take what we had and recover.)

    I'll also mention that all of our documentation was in hardcopy format and stored as Word/Visio/PDF files. (At the time, online documentation was still a foreign concept.) Also, our documentation was not at the disaster site, and multiple (internal) personnel had access to it.

    There are probably some other things that I haven't thought of yet, but that seems to be the gist of where this is going.

    What do people think of this? Your feedback, as well as ideas and suggestions, are welcome and encouraged!

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  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    I've come up with an abstract. Again, I could use some feedback.

    Title: "Disaster Documents: The role of documentation in disaster recovery"

    I was an employee of a company that had an office in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Prior to that infamous date, I had written several departmental documents that ended up being critical to our recovery. In this presentation, I provide a narrative of what happened in the weeks following 9/11, and how documentation played a role in getting the organization back on its feet.

    While other disaster recovery presentations talk about strategies, plans, and techniques, this presentation focuses on the documentation itself. We will discuss the documents we had and how they were used in our recovery. We will also discuss what documents we didn't have, and how they could have made the process better.

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    ‌Check out my blog at https://pianorayk.wordpress.com/[/url]

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 993627

    Ray K (3/11/2016)


    I've come up with an abstract. Again, I could use some feedback.

    Title: "Disaster Documents: The role of documentation in disaster recovery"

    I was an employee of a company that had an office in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Prior to that infamous date, I had written several departmental documents that ended up being critical to our recovery. In this presentation, I provide a narrative of what happened in the weeks following 9/11, and how documentation played a role in getting the organization back on its feet.

    While other disaster recovery presentations talk about strategies, plans, and techniques, this presentation focuses on the documentation itself. We will discuss the documents we had and how they were used in our recovery. We will also discuss what documents we didn't have, and how they could have made the process better.

    That sounds awesome, Ray. Such personal experience is incredibly rare and your insights/experiences would help anyone. If I saw this at an SQL Saturday or a large conference, such as PASS, it would be a "MUST SEE" for me even though we have a successful "practice" DR and documented BCP (Distaster Recovery/Business Continuity Plan) every year.

    --Jeff Moden


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    When you put the right degree of spin on it, the number 3|8 is also a glyph that describes the nature of a DBAs job. 😉

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  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    Jeff Moden (3/12/2016)


    Ray K (3/11/2016)


    I've come up with an abstract. Again, I could use some feedback.

    Title: "Disaster Documents: The role of documentation in disaster recovery"

    I was an employee of a company that had an office in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Prior to that infamous date, I had written several departmental documents that ended up being critical to our recovery. In this presentation, I provide a narrative of what happened in the weeks following 9/11, and how documentation played a role in getting the organization back on its feet.

    While other disaster recovery presentations talk about strategies, plans, and techniques, this presentation focuses on the documentation itself. We will discuss the documents we had and how they were used in our recovery. We will also discuss what documents we didn't have, and how they could have made the process better.

    That sounds awesome, Ray. Such personal experience is incredibly rare and your insights/experiences would help anyone. If I saw this at an SQL Saturday or a large conference, such as PASS, it would be a "MUST SEE" for me even though we have a successful "practice" DR and documented BCP (Distaster Recovery/Business Continuity Plan) every year.

    Thanks for the feedback and the boost to my ego! 😉

    I submitted my abstract to SQL Saturday in Albany. That gives me some incentive to work on this thing. If I can finish it sooner, maybe I can submit it to some other SQL Saturdays as well!

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  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172462

    Also consider the need for roles during DR. Who is responsible for what tasks is critical to ensure everything gets up and running on time without duplicate effort.

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    Woo-hoo! Found out this morning that my presentation was accepted for SQL Saturday #526 in Rochester!

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    ‌Check out my blog at https://pianorayk.wordpress.com/[/url]

  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172462

    Ray K (4/7/2016)


    Woo-hoo! Found out this morning that my presentation was accepted for SQL Saturday #526 in Rochester!

    Congratulations!

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Ray K

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 31016

    The hits keep on coming! Just got word that I'll be presenting this in Philadelphia as well! C'mon out!

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  • crmitchell

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4356

    Ray K (3/11/2016)


    I'll also mention that all of our documentation was in hardcopy format and stored as Word/Visio/PDF files. (At the time, online documentation was still a foreign concept.) Also, our documentation was not at the disaster site, and multiple (internal) personnel had access to it.

    I'd definitely favour keeping it as hardcopy. If you are in a DR situation there is no guarantee you will be able to access any online copy.

    I came across such a case in a DR exercise I was involved in at a previous company. The documentation was stored as Word docs unfortunately it included a link to another doc stored on the companies normal servers which could not be accessed from the DR site during the exercise.

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