Posts Tagged ‘Disaster Recovery’

DR Testing: Peace of Mind

Written by Stefanie Beach-Coker

Does it really give you peace of mind, or is it just something we say?

I’ve been in the DRBC industry for more than a decade now. I am still very passionate about this line of business and take DR and DR testing very seriously. I also think that some of the comments we make to our customers roll off our tongues without much critical thought. We’ve witnessed and mitigated many hurricane threats in my tenure at Corus360/RES-Q™ Services, all of which our team has been all hands-on deck at the first sign of a storm headed to the US. What this means to our customers is that we are already pulling their configuration/SLA information before a storm has approached the proximity of their facility.

Part of what we provide to our customers is ongoing updates and notifications on the actual storm along with updating specific requirements they may need they have to put RES-Q™ Services on alert or declare a disaster. Year after year we send the information out during storm season, but the threat of Hurricane Florence seemed to make us all stop and think. She was a very large and unpredictable storm that was slated to impact different areas of the Carolinas. Maybe it was due to the area (I am a resident of NC with many customers close by) or the number of customers that needed to be contacted in preparation for Florence’s landfall.

Additionally, this storm made me really pay attention to the things I wrote and said instead of just letting words “roll off my tongue”.  Whatever the reason was, I was very in tune to the urgency and consistency of the information we were sending out to our customers.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one taking this event seriously.  For the first time, I heard back from EVERY customer I personally reached out to. It was enlightening to hear the responses and reactions. The customers that perform regular DR testing or had already developed their recovery solution to a more resilient state were elated to hear the warnings early on and responded back with a “Thank you!” and for us to all be safe as well. The customers, that for whatever reason hadn’t reached that point, had a totally different response to my notifications.

At times, during the build up to Florence and anticipating where she was really going to be an impact, I felt like somewhere in a state of panic and disbelief that it may actually happen to them. It’s a very scary time when a storm is approaching, and our main concern should be able to be with our families and prepare our homes. Now when I say to a prospect or a customer that DR testing will give you peace of mind or make you sleep better at night, it no longer “just rolls off my tongue”.

The words are no longer a sales pitch but a genuine testament to what I’ve witnessed: services that do what we want them to do – give us peace of mind. This is why DR testing matters. Precedent and personal understanding about our customers have led to deeper conversation and better business continuity and DR planning for our customers across the board.

Without a Disaster Plan, the Financial Risks are Massive

Written by George Liscinsky

In my eyes, the following statement remains extremely profound: The only thing that will be more difficult than planning for a Disaster will be explaining why you DIDN’T!

Without enough proper planning, your brand reputation will take a huge hit if your business process is disrupted. If your services suddenly become unavailable or you are unable to communicate with your customers and partners, your brand will ultimately suffer.

Planning for the unknown is unquestionably a difficult task. The unpredictability of natural disasters, hardware failures, and terrorist events coupled with the unavoidable factor of human error means that the reality is this: data loss is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning must be an integral part of an organization’s risk management efforts. During the 30+ years that I have been involved in this industry, I have seen many companies take a hit to their bottom line or, in some cases, become damaged so badly that they were never able to recover.

Take the time to get ahead of this issue. Keep your recovery plans up-to-date and confirm that your supply chain meets your organization’s standards. It’s also crucial to remember that exercises are an enormously important part of this process. With disaster recovery plans in place, you will be able stay ahead of auditors and avoid any potential criticisms. However, without proper planning and exercising, the result of an actual disruptive event is usually chaotic.

Listen to Nike and Just Do It!

The State (Noise) of Our DR Industry

Written by Steve Gruber

Throughout my 25 years in the Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery industry, I have never heard so much noise.  Talk about an information overload.  It seems that in the recent past, it was much easier to steer customers toward strategies and solutions that met their backup and recovery needs at an acceptable price tag.

Now, today – between the cloud buzz, software solutions, and various appliances being served up – the noise and confusion is heavily compounded.  Couple these offerings with the constant parade of disruptive technologies, and it’s enough to cause a headache.

Based on my experience, it’s time to revert back to the basics, especially for those organizations that have not yet begun to idealize or test their recovery strategy.  Today, many of our largest customers that perform their DR tests with us are still leveraging simple tape-based backup and recovery solutions.  Therefore, tape is not dead and, on the contrary, is very much alive.

Some of our customers have begun exploring other solutions; including cloud-based offerings and a hybrid approach to backup and recovery.  Others have jumped fully into the cloud, only to somewhat retreat when 1) they are hit with heavy data egress charges for pulling back their data, or 2) they have experienced the complexity of full-system restores in the cloud.

Realistically, there is no perfect solution for every computing platform you support today. Instead, there are many companies trying to convince you that they have perfected the latest and greatest solution to take care of your backup and recovery needs.

My advice – put your toe in the water with RES-Q™ Services and, based on our firsthand experience assisting clients with their DR testing, let us provide you with the opportunity to see firsthand, with no obligation, what technology could be the right choice for you.


What Happened to Service?

Written by Steve Gruber 

When was the last time you truly received excellent service?  I’m referring to the type of service that made you stand up and actually take notice of what the word excellence really means.

We live in a world where, I believe, mediocre service has become the norm.  Whether it’s the services you receive at a restaurant, box office, or from your managed service provider, it seems that service is on the decline, with maybe a few exceptions.

A lot of the time, what we see today as a Disaster Recovery Service provider is many customers telling us horror stories about the level of service they have been receiving from their current service providers.

The stories are endless about their experiences, especially around a lack of support and service when they conduct their DR tests.  Imagine if those same customers facing these service issues had to actually declare a disaster; what should they expect? What a Disaster Recovery team needs the most, in order to provide and exceed for a client, is to bolster its service delivery teams and have their feet on the ground, ready to take action.

My point is: what happened to the old “baker’s dozen’ philosophy to service where a customer orders 12 but gets 13 delivered, where the customer is king?  Or where you can say we experienced “white glove service.”

The service provider business leaders of today must continually instill the sense of value with their services delivery teams because keeping customers is just as important, and maybe even more important, than obtaining new customers.

The team I work with daily focuses on the fact that we must “out service our competition,” which we pride ourselves in being extremely good at.

So, my advice to all – regardless of what kind of business you operate, manage, or the job you perform – is to strive for excellence and be different to the point where people or the customers you serve take notice and bring back the tradition of the “baker’s dozen.”


To Veeam or Not to Veeam

As a Disaster Recovery professional, who has been in the Business Continuity industry for the past 24 years, you come across a product or technology that’s a real game changer every now and then. Let me tell you, that is exactly what Veeam is to the Virtual Server world, a major league game changer.

15 years ago when someone spoke of requiring HA or needed immediate recovery of their Intel server environment, there was one path and that was primarily Double-Take. Today the highway leads to Veeam for its versatility and functionality, not to mention ease of use. As one of their tag line references: “It just works”, and that’s exactly what we have witnessed time after time with our various customers.

As a software technology built from the ground-up for the Virtual Server world, Veeam is robust enough to handle just about anything you can throw at it and still gets the data backup and replication job done. Its ease of use coupled with its Cloud Connect feature can have you backing-up locally and replicating data to any number of Veeam Cloud Connect host partners at a DC location and price point of your choosing in no time.  You can even find Veeam Cloud Connect partners who already have the recovery and server infrastructure in place so you can have a complete and affordable recovery solution that goes well beyond pushing data to the cloud.  Now that is exactly what intrigued me, a real recovery solution that’s testable and takes care of your critical virtual system environment when disaster strikes.

Reach out to your peers and friends in the industry and you will see why Veeam now has over 155,000 customers protecting over 9.1 Million VMs.

Veeam on friends!

Disaster Recovery: To Test or Not to Test?

How do I test? Let me count the ways…

When most customers think of a DR Test, their first thought seems to be, “We must test as if we are experiencing a disaster.” Although this approach is the most common, it is not necessarily the best. While testing certainly should be a time to prepare for the worst-case scenario, it is also a good time to understand the Who, What, When, and Where of the actual Disaster Recovery strategy. Understanding these basics will not only help you test more efficiently, but more importantly, it will help you recover in the event of an actual disaster.

Why do we care about the “who” in testing for DR?  Many companies make the mistake of assuming that every team member will be available to fill his or her role during a disaster, when in reality, resources will most likely be limited. I can think of two examples that should serve as lessons to all.

The first is the most recent—Hurricane Sandy.  While I was working for a different DR Service Provider, a customer declared a disaster, only to discover upon arrival at the Recovery Center that their System Admin for a particular platform was trapped at home by flood waters. The customer was left scrambling, trying to figure out how to recover the systems usually taken care of by that particular System Admin.

The second was a result of 9/11.  When I was working for that same DR Service Provider out of Scottsdale, AZ, I received a call the morning of 9/12, and the customer on the other end was in absolute hysterics. They were the West Coast office for a small company based in the World Trade Center (WTC).  The IT department was in the WTC, along with the entire East Coast office.  No one in their East Coast office survived.  They lost everyone when the towers collapsed.  They had absolutely no idea of what to do to start their recovery in order to get their business back up and running.  Regardless of how important your information is to keep your business moving forward, people are your greatest asset.

You might be wondering, “If I’m not testing as if an actual disaster is happening, then how do I test?” With over 16 years of experience in the DR industry (and over 18 in IT), I have seen testing done in many different ways. The good news is that none of these ways is wrong! Some customers want to test one particular platform from their data center at a time. Some customers want to test subsets of their overall hardware configuration. This is a great approach, as practice always makes us better. Other customers may use test time to pre-test an upgrade or fix they are getting ready to implement at home.  This gives them an opportunity to do a “live” run of the installation before they take it to production.   Another example of testing does not involve the IT hardware at all.  Sometimes it is a good idea to do a “paper” test.  This is an exercise to walk through all recovery steps and documentation that would be required at time of disaster so that the customer can be confident that they have everything they would need to recover in the event of a disaster.

When is the best time to test? 

That question is going to be different for everyone. Testing is recommended when any major changes take place that affect the IT organization or company, such as hardware and software upgrades or platform changes. Some companies are required to do audits every year, so they need to test prior to the audit. In a perfect world, the test would be a couple of months prior to the audit, so in the event there is an issue, the organization has time to correct it prior to the actual audit.

Where should you test? 

In the past, there was no option but to go to the Recovery Center for DR testing.  Advances in technology over the last 20 years have created numerous new possibilities. Today, with the network options available, customers can test from almost anywhere. One of the most common new models is for non-replication customers to send their tapes to the Recovery Center, where a recovery specialist loads the tapes and sets up a basic configuration on the hardware, and the customer tests completely remote from their own center. Many customers still like to be present at the Recovery Center during a test, as this is how they would operate during an actual disaster. Other customers use a hybrid of these two options—they send their IT DR team to the Recovery Center to handle the recovery while the end users remain home and test remotely.

As you can see, as technology has evolved, so have the means for DR testing. Whether taking advantage of the latest methodology and leveraging the latest technology or simply doing a paper walk-through and documentation check, testing is an important factor in being able to recover at time of disaster. The time invested in DR testing will only bring great returns when you are able to continue business in the event of an actual disaster.

RES-Q™ Services strives every day to out-service our competition, while possessing the unique ability to think outside the traditional DR box with relevant, cost-effective solutions.


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