SQL Server Blog

Prepare For the Disaster Before The Disaster

Kind of like some previous common sense posts inspired by mundane tasks (Day Job Tips learned from the garden, a dump trip, etc.), I was hit with another blog thought today. This goes well with my post – Plan To Fail or Don’t Expect To Succeed.

Updated: Added a sound piece of advice in the bullet list below from a comment from a person who loves your data. (Karen Lopez@Datachick on twitter,)

The Illustration

There is a blizzard heading my way tonight. Actually as I type it is here with the snow picking and wind picking up.

Snow Starting To Fall
Snow Is Starting - One of the wood piles

Pre-Winter was good this year – No storms to speak of until now. Some pretty cold weeks (1 cord of word done already) nothing bad. As a result, I’ve been slacking off with pre-winter chores (cleaning up yard, plastic sheeting around chicken coop run, piling last of wood, prepping driveway for plowing, etc.). I Saw the forecast and hit overdrive last night (Christmas night), Friday when I could (Christmas Eve) and then today (Playing with the kids after Church day) finally doing what should have been done for awhile.  Add on a last minute trip to Wal-Mart before church (when I could have been helping corral kids)  to get a new shovel, Heet for the Generator and gas that should have been bought already.

End Result? Pulled muscle in arm throwing wood around hastily, less time with kids on long weekend, added stress to holiday preparations, added stress for wife, not everything as I had hoped (couldn’t move a small maple tree I should have replanted this fall because its bucket is one with the ground and will soon become one with the plow in all likelihood) and other consequences.

Here Comes The Part When I Preach To Myself

You know the disclaimer I give here if you’ve read the other posts.. This is advice that applies mostly to me but may help you:

How ready are you for dealing with a disaster at work??

  • Have you practiced your restores lately? (ever??)
  • Do you know what your SLA for recovery is?
  • Can you meet it?
  • Do you have the environment and configurations documented?
  • Have any checklists to help get you through disasters of different varieties?
  • Those sprawling DB instances… Know who owns each database on them? Know how to reach them?
  • Have you been keeping up with your skills? Do you have a network of resources and escalation points (MS Support? Twitter #sqlhelp hashtag? SQL Server Consultant you know and trust?)
  • Ask and verify if other IT professionals at your company are doing what they should be doing in the way of monitoring and proactive tasks, otherwise all your work could be in jeopardy. (H/T Karen Lopez in the comments below)

How close are you to causing a disaster at work?

  • Are you performing regular maintenance?
  • Doing DBCC CheckDBs with it?
  • Have a good monitoring application installed?
  • If not, are you at least checking logs (SQL, SQL Agent and Windows Event at least) regularly?
  • Do you have a solid code review and release process in place?

Carry On

That’s it. Don’t be a heel like me and wait until the last minute. You already spend enough time in the office. Don’t call your family to say you are going to be late, “eat supper without me”, because you didn’t avoid a disaster through proactive work.

Article by Mike Walsh

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8 thoughts on “Prepare For the Disaster Before The Disaster”

  1. Great advice….

    To slightly hijack the post…I’d say the same logic applies to networking. I have a blog post com in up on Network when You Don’t Need a Network. Once you need a network, it’s too late to build one. Same goes for restores and weather prep.

    I would add one more to your work list: ask others if they are monitoring the stuff they are supposed to be monitoring. Then ask them to show you.

  2. No hijacking, just adding a perspective so thank you. My network has saved me quite a bit and presented me with opportunities to grow, learn and even opportunities to make some money. If you don’t work on setting that up you’ll be in trouble on the day you wish you had some trusted colleagues to ask questions of and watch the power of the connections answer that question. Looking forward to your post.

    That is also a really great comment. It is something I’ve missed on any of my blog posts about preparing for disaster. It is a concept I agree with and am familiar with through my fascination with real world disasters but not one I’ve given much thought to in posts/advice. We can be doing all the monitoring and preparation we could possibly do and still fail miserably if the network team isn’t watching for issues, the enterprise backup team isn’t actually caring for our backups, etc. Maybe you’ve inspired a future post. For now I’ll have to edit this one.

  3. Great points Mike!

    As Data Professionals I honestly believe that ultimately the buck DOES stop with us, when it comes to protecting the data assets of our companies/customers/clients.

    It can be all too easy sometimes to sidestep this responsibility (“Team x should have done blah”) or worse fall into a false sense of security because the backup jobs have been run. Of course as we know, simply just having backups is not good enough and is only the first step of many on the perilous road to data recovery, as your post highlights for us.

    For the newbie readers, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of Mike’s message here about protecting our data assets. I ask you all to seriously think about and take on board what is being said.

    To quote my Blogs Mantra: “Together we can raise the bar of excellence and redefine the role of the Data Professional.”

    Good luck with your snow storm Mike and Happy Holidays!

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