Disrupting the disaster recovery model



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13 November 2015 | 0

Time and money are two of the most valuable commodities in any business, but the traditional approach to disaster recovery (DR) usually asked too much of both. Lately however, we’re seeing two trends pushing DR into conversations at senior management level. One: growing numbers of companies are caught in the compliance net. For example, bidding for contracts with larger organisations often involves being audited to prove the ability to deliver services. Two: there’s a general expectation from customers that downtime is no longer tolerated.

The old ways of DR were a deterrent to meeting these needs. Many businesses still send backup tapes offsite to a second facility running identical infrastructure. We estimate this costs 1.5 times the amount of a business’ primary IT systems. A €100,000 investment in a SAN and servers is replicated at a second site – plus 50% more for communications links and replication software. For businesses needing ‘hot sites’ in the event of their main office being inaccessible, there’s a further cost of up to €600 per seat per year.

“Many businesses still send backup tapes offsite to a second facility running identical infrastructure. We estimate this costs 1.5 times the amount of a business’ primary IT systems”

That’s before we cover the hidden costs of IT staff to manage this second infrastructure, and to plan and build it at the start. Then, in the event of a disaster, rebuilding that infrastructure from tapes also involved further time lost to business disruption.

We believe DR shouldn’t involve wasted time and money. In fact, we know it can add value and deliver business benefit. In 2007, Savenet Solutions was the first company in Europe to deliver DR as a cloud service. Since then, we’ve seen how to eliminate many of the obstacles to good DR, while improving a company’s business continuity posture.

For example, a good DR solution should include backup. Backups to the cloud offer many advantages over the traditional way: they can take place far more frequently than with tape media that need to be physically transported. If your backups happen nightly but your primary comms room gets flooded the following day, you’re facing hours of lost data.

Contrast that with customers running cloud backups over a high-bandwidth connection, whose backup data is just six seconds behind their live environment. Even SMEs using standard comms links would typically face lost time of less than 60 minutes.

With no physical hardware to buy, the DR cost model changes completely. Cloud-based systems typically cost a fraction of the original IT systems they’re replicating. If you were expecting to spend €150,000, as in the scenario above, the cost would typically be between €25,000 and €40,000. What’s more, this is amortised as a monthly operating expense rather than needing upfront capex spend.

Customers’ downtime is reduced by using the cloud DR environment to deploy and check major software upgrades with no business disruption. Because both environments are essentially the same, our team, acting as an extra IT resource for our customers, can identify and solve any potential problems in advance. This also addresses one of the biggest triggers of DR, in our experience: untested patches that cause live systems to crash.

In summary, we believe cloud technology turns the traditional DR model on its head. Instead of simply being a cost, we believe it can unlock value from your secondary systems. We have successfully delivered it for customers in the financial services, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors – industries that all have stringent compliance requirements. We work with BT and Interxion as data hosting partners, and we have obtained ISO27001 security certification.

A good DR strategy doesn’t just mean being prepared for the worst. It can put your business on a surer footing, help it to meet compliance goals – all while saving time and money.


Lorcan Cunningham is managing director of Savenet Solutions

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