Threats to business continuity can arrive out of the blue, from causes ranging from earthquakes, floods and fires to technical problems. But they can all create a single underlying problem capable of crippling, or even killing, a business. That problem is data loss.
An unexpected hazard faces many businesses which lose their data – either they can’t recover it in the event of a server crash, or they can’t recover it quickly enough to prevent a threat to their bottom line, or even their existence. Although most organisations have backup products, few can recover their data, databases and complete servers quickly enough to minimise business disruption.
The latest fourth generation real-time recovery (RTR) technologies circumvent this problem, making fast recovery achievable and affordable. Complete server restores need no longer take more than three to five minutes regardless of server size, if businesses use virtual boot technologies.
Over the past four years we have seen a steady migration away from traditional tape-based backup products to disk-to-disk-to-anywhere real-time recovery (RTR) solutions that focus on recovery and business continuity
An organisation needs to consider key issues: the recovery time objective (RTO) – the time it takes to rebuild a system and get it back in to operation; the recovery point objective (RPO) – how far back in time they need to go to restore a ‘clean’ data set; affordability; and the complexity of the solution. For best practice, the faster the RTO, the less RPO, the more affordable and less complex the solution. This results in a compelling investment. So it is no surprise that RTR market is seeing exponential growth.
Historically disaster recovery and/or business continuity solutions were available only to large organisations with extensive IT resources. Today RTR solutions are eminently affordable at less than $1300 per server.
Another benefit is accessibility. RTR allows a support person to RDP (remote control) into an organisation’s network from home, or anywhere, and right mouse click on the last incremental backup (e.g. from 15 minutes ago). Within three to five minutes s/he can bring a crashed server up in a temporary virtual environment (e.g. on a spare system), then quickly have the business back in full production to its exact state from 15 minutes ago. Clearly this is game-changing technology for all companies, regardless of size.
We advise businesses to implement a solution with backups to a local image repository (disk), then replicate that image repository off-site – this is key to a complete data protection strategy.
A real-time recovery solution should be able to perform continuous incremental backup, where the solution takes one base/full backup, followed by incremental backups at the sector (not file) level every 15 minutes. This dramatically reduces data volumes being backed up and enables archiving via Internet to an off-site repository, or even into the cloud. Encryption is also key when considering off-site backups, as are the service provider’s capabilities.
Businesses should ask themselves: is our data secure. How often does the off-site hosted provider test restores, what are their recovery SLAs, and what guarantees do they provide? Using technologies such as VirtualBoot test restores or even full restores should be fast, easy and painless, and take less than five minutes.
Resellers helping transformation
RTR is rapidly becoming the norm for end users and resellers throughout New Zealand, where our partners are reporting that the technology has helped to transform their business. Now, instead of selling backup, they are selling a RTR solution and generating excellent revenue and profit from these sales, as well as solving the critical data backup and recovery problem that has plagued organisations of all sizes since the computer was invented.
Everyone understands the need to back up their data and servers, but the smart resellers position RTR as either a complementary disaster recovery solution to an existing tape product, or as a complete replacement for those customers frustrated with backup windows, long recovery windows and the expense of having to buy all those agents and options for tape backup. In our experience, more than 92% of end users who see a real-time recovery demonstration buy the solution.
We are seeing more and more smaller niche partners putting RTR solutions into large end users, as once they demonstrate the technology and do a proof of concept, almost everyone buys it. Most companies are using RTR to protect and recover their data between 8am and 6pm, while their existing tape backup product is run between 8pm and 6am for archival purposes. Typically within 6-12 months, businesses simply keep one tape licence and dump the images down to tape, or get rid of tape totally and implement replication capabilities to move the back-ups offsite for archival and remote disaster recovery.
Our partners tell us it is easy to position an RTR solution to an end user. They simply ask: "Would you be interested in restoring your server in less than five minutes, never again losing more than 15 minutes of data or database transactions, eliminating backup windows and doing it for approximately the same cost as your existing backup maintenance?” As one reseller explained, it really is a ‘no brainer’.
Resellers tell us that by simply re-allocating the maintenance on a traditional tape backup product over three years, the cost is often roughly equivalent to replacing it with an RTR solution that does backup, recovery, disaster recovery and even offsite replication/archiving of data. So RTR delivers an almost zerocost solution to their customers. This is true of most companies with 10 or more servers.
Our partners have worked with us to develop a series of simple, yet profitable (almost 100% gross profit) upsell opportunities. These include offering customers a monthly monitoring service where they monitor real-time backup status. Secondly, offering a weekly testing service where the partner remote controls into a customer’s network and using virtual boot technology, performs a complete test of backups in a just a few minutes, helping to ensure data and database recoverability.
We are hearing that more and more resellers are offering their customers a ‘hot loan/standby server’ for a monthly fee. In the event of a server crash, the server is virtual booted (typically taking less than five minutes) and the customer is restored to full production with a maximum of 15 minutes of lost data. A loan server is delivered to the customer and they use a headstart restore technology to perform a zero impact, real-time migration from the temporary virtual boot environment to the loan server. Of course, this server is highly specified and really grunty, so most customers tend to keep it and simply increase their monthly spend to cover the new investment.
So our partners are asking their customers if they interested in seeing a demo that eliminates backup windows, protects and recovers data in real-time, delivers sub-five minute disaster recovery, restores files in seconds and can replicate backups offsite for archival and remote disaster recovery. Welcome to the age of real-time recovery!