Not all vendors offering disaster recovery in the cloud are the same. And with no two customers alike, many factors can come into play when choosing a solution that makes sense for the IT environment deployed to each business. Doyenz' chief revenue officer discusses how to make the pick that will make you look like you saved the day.—Jennifer Bosavage, editor
What the cloud provides from a disaster recovery perspective is substantial: in place of financing data center (hardware, software, maintenance fees) through the IT service provider, customers can subscribe to a service. Resellers can also bundle the offering as part of a managed service contract, or sell the solution as an individual offering, i.e charging for a test restore for a server environment or initiating a full test virtual failover.
When conducting the initial disaster recovery consultation with a customer, here are a few key areas to investigate:
Vertical Market Regulations — Heavy regulation in industries such as healthcare, finance and legal means IT service providers must pay close attention to compliance when evaluating cloud DR solutions for each customer. When you’re with the customer, inquire about specific laws governing the protection, storage, retrieval, and retention of data, and take your findings to the cloud DR solution vendor to ensure your customer will be compliant. Here in the US, common regulations include Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Patriot Act, and for European customers the EU Data Protection Directive (EUDPD).
Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) — What are the customer’s expectations around application and data availability when a disaster strikes? These should be clearly documented in the service level agreement and expectations set up front with your customer. Ensuring that the cloud-based DR solution will allow you to meet RTOs set forth in the agreement is key to a DR scenario and maintaining a good reputation as an IT service provider. Cloud-based solutions can provide a faster time to recovery at a price point SMB customers can afford.
Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) — What are the RPO requirements of your customer? Generally speaking, small businesses can run on the prior night’s backup of their environment while that day’s data is being retrieved. Realistic and attainable RPOs are essential to any business continuity plan.
Virtualized or On-Premise Production Environments – Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) conversion can take longer in a disaster scenario than a fully virtualized environment. In many cases, it’s suitable for small businesses to have on-premise servers and local backup in combination. By having a solid understanding of how recovery in the cloud can accompany both virtualized and on-premise environments you’ll secure a spot as a trusted advisor for your customer.
And here’s a short list of factors to consider when choosing a company to provide DR in the cloud for your clients:
Proven technology – With new companies entering the cloud computing market regularly, it’s important to know that the service is proven and reliable. Can they refer you to other resellers in your region as a reference? If the answer is no then you would be best advised to find a more reputable solution.
Support hours and location – IT disasters don’t always happen between regular working hours. Is your solution provider’s support team available for critical incidents after hours? Location of the support team is also key; when you are calling support at 2 am are you confident that you’ll be able to understand the person picking up the phone?
Automated vs. manual validation – If you need to test the backup of the customer’s production environment, does the solution enable you to log in to the User Interface through a web browser? If not, how dependent will you be on the vendor to validate the integrity of the data to ensure it’s not corrupted.
Web access — In the cloud, it’s all about instant and scalable access to your data. Does the company provide an intuitive web management environment that enable instant access to production applications in recovery environments? SMBs will expect their IT service providers to be able to access and manage their data in the cloud so they can not only test recovery, but perform recovery operations.