5 Rules For Better Disaster Recovery

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As the middle of August is upon us, here on the East Coast thoughts of cookouts, vacations and barbecues shift toward a more ominous reality—namely hurricanes. While many of us worry about the impact those weather events may have on home and family—and some of us even prepare for the worst—the question remains, how many businesses are prepared for a disaster, weather-related or otherwise? Or, worse yet, think they're prepared when they really aren't?

One thing is certain: The days of throwing the latest backup tape in the boss's glove compartment and hoping for the best are long behind us. Systems, processes and tasks have become far too complex to rely on what was once a simple solution, which arguably had little real value to begin with.

Can be reached via e-mail at fohlhorst@cmp.com.

Basically, businesses break down into two categories: ones that have experienced a disaster and ones that will. Selling disaster-recovery solutions to the first set of businesses seems pretty easy; it's the second set where the opportunity lies and which proves to be the most challenging.

For VARs looking to tread into the disaster-recovery and business-continuity realm, there are a few rules to follow that will help lead to success. First off, a VAR should limit its liability. In other words, if a product fails to deliver, don't be left holding the short end of the stick. Make sure your service contracts or customer agreements protect you.

Second, disaster recovery and business continuity are two distinct items; many try to lump them together as one solution, but each has its own requirements and place in the business world, as their names imply. Sell those products and services based upon the goal you are trying to achieve.

Third, it's not just about the data and the technology; disaster-recovery and business-continuity solutions are all about people. Case in point: You could have the best plan to protect data in place, but if the facility is under water and the personnel evacuated from the region (' la Hurricane Katrina), then the ability to conduct business doesn't exist anyway.

Fourth, remember your customers: A small local store will have very different backup and recovery needs than a local insurance office. Retail businesses usually need their storefronts operational to stay in business, while service-related businesses rely more on their personnel and access to data. Each drives a very different solution.

And finally, be realistic: Don't plan for nuclear wars or comets hitting the Earth; plan for recoverable disasters and sell your customers on reality.

Have your customers faced down disasters?
You can reach Frank J. Ohlhorst, CMP Channel Senior Technology Analyst, via e-mail at fohlhorst@cmp.com.

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