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Sharepoint and Disaster Recovery

Disasters happen! Want proof? Take Superstorm Sandy for example.

Up and down the Eastern seaboard people were fully aware of a storm called Sandy churning above the waves not far off shores of the Mid Atlantic. And, with a lovely full moon to brighten the night sky, the clouds swirling sublimely overhead were beautiful to watch.

The weather forecasters were pleading with the population to take Sandy seriously and brace for the nastiest storm in a hundred years, but no one was particularly concerned. After all, Sandy was just a minimal hurricane.

As it turned out Sandy would earn the moniker ‘Superstorm’ later that night. But in the early evening hours, Sandy was still just a big storm, not a disaster. Like many other storms that flirted with the East Coast, Sandy seemed almost benign to most citizens in the area. She began like all hurricanes as a tropical wave thousands of miles out in the eastern Caribbean, but very quickly grew into an oversized tropical storm. She then was upgraded on October 24 to a Category One hurricane with maximum sustained winds of ‘only’ 74 mph. Then on October 29 Sandy made landfall under a full moon at 8 p.m. near Atlanta City NJ with winds of 80 mph.

Sandy will end up costing over $20 billion dollars in property damage and up to $30 billion dollars in lost business, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in history, according to IHS Global Insight, a market and economic forecasting service.


It doesn’t matter if you are a huge multi-national corporation with deep pockets and exceptionally strong IT resources, or a small business with one location, you need to be prepared if a disaster takes your business down. To emphasize the importance of disaster recovery and business continuity, a few sobering statistics from a report published by Continuity Central about the impact of disasters on businesses make a compelling case:
  • 70% of businesses involved in a major fire fail within 3 years (Chubb Group of Insurance Companies)
  • One out of two businesses never return to the marketplace following a major disaster (AXA Group)
  • Within two years after Hurricane Andrew in Florida (1992), 80% of affected companies that lacked a disaster        recovery and business continuity plan went out of business (FEMA)

This blog is not intended to scare you into developing your own DR or BC plans, but it is intended to highlight the importance of DR and BC, when it comes to SharePoint 2013. In this blog post, we’ll look at SharePoint 2013 and SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 or SQL Server 2012 because these tools provide configuration and content recovery options that can meet the Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives required to support a business in the event of a large scale outage or disaster.


SharePoint is an enterprise-level applications that is typically part of an organization’s DR plan. As such, recovering SharePoint is often a priority. Most DR plans require that a standby datacenter be maintained as the failover site following a disaster. This means that one of three types of standby sites will be available to accommodate SharePoint. The three types of failover sites are:

  • Cold standby. A secondary datacenter that provides availability within hours or days using back up data. It is a bare metal facility and the servers will need to be provisioned before the backup media can be used to restore the system.
  • Warm standby. A secondary site that can be provisioned within minutes or hours. The servers are already provisioned. up-to-date and ready for the backup media to be restored.
  • Hot standby. A secondary datacenter that can be available within seconds or minutes. The servers are kept constantly provisioned, updated, and the backup media is loaded onto the servers daily or hourly.
No matter what DR option your organization uses, there is likely to some loss of data, however small, following a major outage.


In an ideal scenario, the failover components and systems will match the primary components and systems in every way, including: platform, hardware, and number of servers. Additionally, the failover environment must be able to handle the traffic expected during the failover. The standby site must match the following:
  • Operating system version and all updates
  • SQL Server and all updates
  • SharePoint 2013 versions and all updates
To ensure availability, recovery farm should have redundant power, cooling, network, directory, and SMTP.


A word of caution about Business Continuity. Business Continuity is not Disaster Recovery! BC is a management process that defines, assesses and helps manage all types of risks to the continued operations of the business following some type of major disruption. BC focuses on creating and maintaining a continuity plan, which is a roadmap showing how to continue functioning when normal operations are interrupted. The disruption can be natural, man-made, or a combination of both.

A Disaster Recovery Plan is only one part of a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan. When a disaster occurs and threatens to shut a business down, the BC plan is initiated first to consider all aspects of the business. As a part of that process the information technology disaster recovery plan can be implemented.


If you would like help in either preparing your DR plan or evaluating your current SharePoint system to determine what would be the best DR options for your business, please contact a SharePoint Engine representative at: (877) 368-7207 for more information.

Feel free to contact our Sharepoint Consultant team here.
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