Necessary Evils: EDI Disaster Recovery

Posted by Dave McCray on Feb 3, 2015 3:23 PM


It’s that time of the year once again where people start thinking about their taxes. Not a pleasant activity but a necessary one. This brings to mind an annual event that my client undertakes but in my opinion is like doing your taxes, not a whole lot of fun. I’m talking about the annual disaster recovery test (DRT).

For those of you that have ever been part of a DRT you know what I mean! It’s a process that may seem like a waste of time if it never gets used but well worth the time if you do need to execute it.

Disaster_RecoveryOur process first involves the EDI team walking thru our DRT documentation several weeks prior to the DRT date. We make note of any system changes that have occurred during the past year (actually most of this is done during the time these changes are actually implemented). During the actual DRT we stop the production system (simulating it “crashing”) and then bring the production system up on our development box. We run production data thru this disaster recovery system for a full day. After running smoothly for the 24 hour period we then move the production environment back to the production server. Along the way if there have been any issues encountered we first fix them and then document them for next year’s DRT.

This process would be so easy if it only involved our GENTRAN Unix system. However, because this EDI system interfaces with several other applications it gets rather complicated. The teamwork involved takes planning and following our dynamic DRT plan.  This plan has evolved over the years into a very precise document for the execution of the DRT. The goal is to be able to have anyone on the EDI team follow this document in case of an actual emergency where our production box became unavailable.

We have had to implement our DRT plan twice in the 17 years I have been with this client. Both times the problem was hardware related with our production server and both times we were back up and running within 2 hours on our test server. This proved that the time spent over the years conducting these DRTs was well worth it. We have full management support in spending time doing the DRT annually as it would be much more costly to have an extended outage with no EDI traffic flowing.

Do you have a Disaster Recovery Plan?  If you don’t maybe it’s time to consider setting one up and if you’re not sure where to start, REMEDI has knowledgeable and experienced resources to help you with the process.

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