VARs Look To Disaster Recovery For New Business Focus

Vistastor Callisma

They are looking at a growing market post-Sept. 11, due to an increased concern among clients in ensuring their operations can continue in case of a disaster. The Meta Group said an enterprise could suffer losses of up to $6 million for every hour that its IT infrastructure is offline.

Vistastor, a Broomfield, Colo.-based company formed last November, this week started offering a suite of consulting and integration services aimed at helping clients of any size design and implement business continuity and disaster recovery.

Callisma, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of networking professional services, this week added business continuity, disaster recovery and storage networking to its list of services.

Vistastor's primary focus is on service, said Glenn Jacobsen, president. The company's target markets range from the SMB space to the enterprise. "We've found that SMBs are not really looked at by IBM Global Services and companies like that because they are deemed to be too small," he said.

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Among the Vistastor services is business continuity planning, especially educating clients that while disaster recovery is a significant part of business continuity, they are not the same, Jacobsen said. Included in the company's business continuity planning process are analyzing potential areas of vulnerability, defining workable strategies and implementation.

Vistastor also offers storage planning, assessment and design; network services; and training for business continuity and SANs, said Jacobsen.

The services are packaged with a fixed fee and a fixed time frame, Jacobsen said. "That way, there's no consultant hanging around for a long time," he said.

One of the reasons that Vistastor took the packaged approach is to be attractive to other solution providers, said Jacobson. The company will be looking for partners interested in either reselling Vistastor's services or in rebranding those services and doing their own implementation.

Vistastor resells some storage hardware and software, but that is not a big part of its business. "Clients want us to be vendor-neutral," said Jacobsen. "Other customers, on the other hand, look for us to recommend particular solutions and stick around through the implementation."

For its part, Callisma focuses on helping large clients with a storage infrastructure or even a business continuity or disaster recovery program already in place optimize those programs, said George Orlov, CTO.

The typical client's current disaster recovery program consists of what Orlov called "tape and fly." They typically make their backup tapes and take them to a storage service like Iron Mountain and bring them back when needed. "Under the best of circumstances, it takes a minimum of 72 hours to get the data back, by which time a minimum of 36 hours worth of data is lost," said Orlov. "But you seldom see the best of circumstances."

Most disaster recovery programs remain at a simple level because a complete traditional program using a mirrored hot site can be prohibitively expensive and would be hard to implement because of the need to manage the tight integration between the production site and the hot sites, said Orlov.

Callisma instead takes advantage of the fact that most clients already have multiple data centers and works with existing network infrastructures to cross-replicate data between such centers, Orlov said.

The result is a multilocation disaster recovery network without the need to add additional hardware or software, except perhaps for scripts or SNMP traps for alerts, said Orlov. "We are not developing new software, but connecting everything together so it works seamlessly," he said.

Clients with disaster recovery programs often do not test them enough to ensure they work properly, Orlov said. "In our case, clients are operating their networks on a daily basis, so there's no need to test them every six months," he said.