Terry Pratchett on Disaster Recovery

Cast your minds back to T-SQL Tuesday 19, on the subject of Disaster Recovery. In one of my two posts, I said

Practice makes perfect. But even when you’ve practised DR until you’re blue in the face, there’s always something missing compared with reality – and that’s the disaster itself, and the psychological & physiological impacts of working under that kind of stress.

Thief of Time, Terry Pratchett, on Play.comI’d seen that line before, somewhere – and, last night, I finally found it. It is from Terry Pratchett’s book “Thief of Time“, pp160-1 in the edition I have, and the text is as follows:

‘I really must respectfully protest, your reverence,’ said the acolyte. ‘We have practised for just such an emergency as—’

‘Yeah, I know all about practising procedures for emergencies,’ said Lu-Tze. ‘And there’s always something missing.’

‘Ricidulous! We take great pains to—’

‘You always leave out the damn emergency.’

And Lu-Tze is correct. The emergency itself causes all sorts of changes of behaviour – a DR exercise will typically be attended only by those involved in putting stuff back together, nice and quiet, and you can get on with it. A real DR situation, however, is a very different kettle of fish. You’ll have management breathing down your neck. You’ll have their management, the Ops management, probably Financial Directors, CEOs, all sorts of people with “Chief” or “Executive” or “Manager/Management” in their job titles, who don’t understand a damn thing about what’s going on, but they all want to know, like a bunch of six-year-olds in the back of the car, “are we there yet?”. And this is where the mark of a good boss is – can he keep them away from you so you can concentrate on getting things back together (good), or not (bad). And this is also partly down to how good *you* are – can you provide enough information back to the boss to say what’s going on, how long it’s going to be (approximately), and what else is to be done (again, with time estimates)?

In other words, when the solids are hitting the aircon, can you rapidly put together a project plan with sufficient level of detail to keep your boss and his management colleagues happy? And provide checkpoint reports?

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