Friday, May 18, 2012

which tool to pick?

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail asking for my opinion on some tools for a DRP (Disaster Recovery Planning) project. It’s a subject that I haven’t touched for a long time, but in the end the thought process around his question ended up being so interesting from a security planning perspective that I thought it could be good material for a post.


He asked me about two specific tools, LDRPS and Archer. We had a good experience with LDPRS when we worked together on a BCP/DRP project a few years ago, and someone suggested Archer to him. As I said above there’s been a long time since I worked with BCP processes, but I spent a few minutes researching the current state of those tools in order to provide him a decent opinion.


The interesting aspect of his question is that it replicates a very common dilemma we often face when we are developing tools roadmaps and architectures. The Best of Breed x Generic solution.


I haven’t put my hands on those tools for BCP, but I’m certain that LDRPS is better than Archer on a simple feature by feature comparison. LDRPS was developed by Strohl, later acquired by Sungard, two companies specialized on availability services. It’s used by a lot of Fortune 500 companies and it’s been evolving for literally decades.


Archer, on the other hand, is a GRC tool that happens to have a BCP module. It’s a tool to solve a broader variety of problems than LDRPS, and I bet that it won’t have all the bells and whistles LDRPS has for developing and testing disaster and business continuity plans. But (and there is always a but)…


The wider scope for Archer can be the source of its weakness on this case, but it’s also its major strength. There are a lot of common steps and similarities in the BCP/DRP processes and other processes supported by other Archer modules, such as Risk Management, Compliance Management and Vendor Management. For all these processes it’s necessary to identify data, assets, locations and other components of the organization, establish ownership, value/impact and interdependencies. And that’s what could make Archer the best pick for my friend. Depending on this organization’s strategy for those other processes they might be able to leverage some work already done or re-use the data being gathered for the BCP project on those other processes. They may end with a tool that is not the best available for developing Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans, but they might be getting more value by leveraging the data obtained during that project on other fronts.


Integration and data sharing is one of the key aspects of a successful security strategy. Good security architects and managers will always consider that when choosing the tools to implement that strategy.


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