Disaster Recovery Procedures? (take II)

Subject: Disaster Recovery Procedures? (take II)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, tremblay -dot- lyse -at- tremblayprudly -dot- com
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 09:34:42 -0400

Lyse Tremblay wondered: <<I remain to decide what would be the best tool to use to develop these procedures because these are internal to IT and most probably will not be published externally.>>

A few parting thoughts. First, the tool probably isn't all that relevant so long as it produces reasonably clean and standardized "code" (content). Any word processor will do for writing the procedures, any Web software will do for creating a hyperlinked web of information, and any database will do for storing and searching the information. There may indeed be one "best of breed" application, but the odds are good that _any_ modern software in these categories will do everything you need with various degrees of elegance. But see below for additional thoughts.

Second, talk to everyone involved in the project for a reality check on whether you truly don't need to publish this information externally. In some cases, there are regulatory requirements that require this; for example, when I chaired a WHMIS (http://whmis.org/) implementation committee and helped prepare parts of our disaster recovery plan, we were required to store a copy of our information with the local fire department*. There may be similar requirements for your company.

* Though when I talked to the leader of the emergency response team, he noted that it was probably better if we didn't give him our full laboratory database. His logic was that if his team knew what was stored in our building, they'd be afraid to enter the building in a fire.

Third, you'll need some form of offsite backup--disaster recovery resources are useless to you if they're consumed by the same fire that requires you to use them--which means some form of external publishing is necessary. There will clearly be security issues, both in terms of keeping those backups safe and in terms of protecting any confidential or proprietary or strategic information in a way that also won't prevent _you_ from getting at the information when the building burns down and the PostIt note with the password attached to your monitor becomes charcoal. <g>

<<Although I would like to use an authoring tool right from the beginning to help maintain the useable content, I'm not sure I can justify costly tools such as AuthoIT or XMetal simply because there is only two of us TWs and others (developers) have to be able to use the tool as well.>>

In that case, why not go for the poor man's XML solution: XHTML. This is by no means as sophisticated and rigorous an approach as true XML, but if you're discplined in how you code the XHTML (i.e., enforce the use of well-formed templates), it should be relatively easy to import the results into a power tool like XMetal for cleanup should you migrate to full XML in the future.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Disaster Recovery Procedures: From: Lyse Tremblay

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