Everybody needs a Run Book

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Let me say that title again – Everybody needs a Run Book, ie- a book that contains all of the information you and your staff need to perform day-to-day operations and respond to emergency situations.  This way, when the SHTF – everyone isn’t running around like crazy, but instead has order and process as they work the problem and get through the situation.  It can literally be the life preserver that saves your business.

I thought of this particular topic, while researching something else, and I came across one of those web adds on LinkedIn.  You know what I mean – Free Toolkit: Disaster Recovery Run Book Template.  Thinking this might be worth a look, I clicked and went to the their page.

What I found was similar to what many companies do for White Papers or Templates.  The typical overview, a few splash pictures of the contents and of course….a request for your contact information that they will keep “Completely Private”.  I don’t know XTIUM, and I assume they are a reputable company – so in this case, I imagine they will be using this information to market towards their other products.

XTIUM appears to be a “Fully Managed Cloud Services Provider for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses”, with a focus on Desktop as a Service (DaaS), Managed Cloud, Disaster Recovery, Backup, WAN Optimization and Security.   Going to their site you can learn all about their services via White Papers and  – an nice touch is that they list their Operations Team.   Not hidden behind the curtain, instead you get a little bit more personal with the men (and women) who are in the nuts-and-bolts of the operation.  Being a geek (and a Nerd)…I like the Techies getting some recognition for a change.

Back to the “Run Book”

Delivered in a Word format, the first few pages are an introduction and “how-to” for the manual.  After discussing a Distribution List and where you locate the document itself (an offline copy stored in something like THIS is a great idea), the remaining 21 pages of the Run Book kicks in with various Templates, Tables and Guidelines, covering the following topics.

  • imageDocument Control
  • Contact Information
  • Data Center Access Control List
  • Communication Structure of Plan
  • Declaration Guidelines
  • Alert Response Procedures
  • Issue Management and Escalation
  • Changes to SOP During Recovery
  • Infrastructure Overview
  • Order of Restoration
  • System Configuration
  • Backup Configuration
  • Monitors
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Data Restoration Processes

As a whole, the document is pretty good.  It is mainly made up of tables  and examples, with lots of verbiage thrown in.  I would have liked if some of the example diagrams were actual inserts from Visio, so that they could be edited directly in the document, as opposed to flat picture files that will need to be replaced.  In addition, I think they ignore the use of swim lanes and flow charting (even if just an example) – especially when dealing with Roles and Responsibilities .  While a RACI diagram is a good overview for R&R, having a graphical view of responsibilities during a process goes a long way to expediting a solution…an obvious goal during a disaster.

Overall, considering EVERYR IT Shop should have Run Books (in the Military, we called the SOPs before it was cool to give them other names) this particular template is a a good place to start – and an interesting introduction to XTIUM.  While I cannot personally recommend them as a company, I have to commend them for putting free information out there for IT Managers and staff to use, even if it is for the opportunity to market to them.   Every little bit helps, right?

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