How To Create A Case For Disaster Recovery Plan12:37 PM EST Fri. Dec. 14, 2012
As we've seen with Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast and storms on the West Coast, natural disasters can happen anywhere, at any time. Even though we receive advanced warnings of these impending events, there is no way to predict when IT issues will occur due to human error or malicious acts.
Who can predict how a lack of coffee might affect an individual's decision to flip the wrong switch on a server or if the cleaning person might accidentally unplug a server to vacuum the data center? And of course, as the service provider, you will get that middle-of-the-night call from an angry customer whose network has crashed.
The simplest method to avoid these calls and to ensure customer happiness is to fully educate users on the need for tested disaster recovery plans that leverage automated DR and distributed data storage sites.
Disaster Recovery Education
Although you know the importance of having a tested DR plan in place, many of your customers may not. It is your role as the channel partner to educate customers and show why DR is integral to company operations. You can quickly demonstrate your value as a business partner by demonstrating why customers need resilient IT infrastructures and how the downtime that comes from the loss of one application or server affects an entire infrastructure and all areas of company operations.
This might be best explained with an insurance analogy. DR plans are the company's insurance policy against the loss of data and services due to a disaster. The company has insurance plans for other aspects of operating the business, but why not one for IT data and services?
Companies state that they cannot afford more than four hours of downtime. The chart below, which comes from "Storage Area Networks for Dummies" by Chris Poelker and Alex Nikitin, shows the levels of lost revenue and the amount of loss by industry, based on publicly available data. Depending upon the industry in which your client falls, you could demonstrate the impact of downtime due to data loss or corruption, equipment failure or site outage.
|Industry||Lost revenue per hour (U.S. dollars)|
|Information technology||$1.35 million|
NEXT: Dispersing Data Stores
In addition to demonstrating the value of DR, you must go a step further and express why traditional methods of DR and data protection no longer work. Companies may not want to implement newer technologies such as data replication, snapshots or automated DR systems, but the technologies of yesteryear cannot handle today's complex virtual and physical IT infrastructures and growing data stores.
As the trusted channel partner, you can show how an automated DR system can bring a server back online within minutes versus the hours required for an IT person to take numerous steps and system reboots to get the equipment back online. Automated DR takes all the time-consuming data services recovery steps and automates them so that they can be activated with a single click of the mouse. Automated DR allows you to expand your DR offerings to new and existing customers. The best method of showcasing the value of a DR plan and system is through yearly, if not quarterly, tests of the DR plan. Channel partners should work with customers after hours or over a weekend to run a simulated IT system crash and test the ability of the DR system to get up and running. Customers will see first-hand why DR is critical to business continuity.
One of the clear lessons companies learned from recent storms is that data and other information saved to an offsite DR location must be geographically dispersed. For instance, many companies in New York thought they were safe because they outlined their DR plans and had copies of everything stored with a service provider in New Jersey. Yet, Hurricane Sandy demonstrated that redundancy and disbursement of many miles between various data centers is critical to the success of the DR plan.
We already know that redundancy and an extended network is ideal, but this knowledge again must be passed to the client. Not only must a copy of the data and applications be kept onsite for a quick restore for an IT issue, but copies of the latest data and services must also be replicated to an offsite location many miles away from the original data center so if one site is inoperable, the backup site continues to operate.
Channel partners, such as yourselves, can combine the lessons learned from the recent natural storms with the industry information on downtime to present a compelling outline as to why customers need DR. In recommending automated DR and geographically dispersed data stores, you can be seen as the hero of the data center by your customers in ensuring that companies are fully protected whether there is an issue from a natural event or human error.
Ralph Wynn, senior product marketing manager for FalconStor Software, is a storage professional with more than 14 years of experience in product management, marketing, support and deployment. Prior to joining FalconStor, Ralph worked at Bocada, Syncsort and Symantec.