03 Nov 2014
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It's not all about back up - recovery top priority

By Heather Wright

It's called disaster recovery, and resellers are being urged to think recovery, as Heather Wright discovers.

It’s about recovery, not just backup.

And while you might think that’s just stating the obvious when it comes to disaster recovery, several backup and disaster recovery specialists spoken to for this feature say customers still aren’t fully considering the recovery side of their backup systems, particularly on the cloud front.

And they’re warning that when the need comes time to restore data, many customers may be caught short.

Ian Forrester, general manager of Kiwi business continuity and disaster recovery specialist Plan B – the company powering Westcon’s NZ Cloud Backup offering – says cloud computing has gained momentum in the last couple of years, and many customers have been swept up in the move.

He likens cloud backup to a toll road.

“The further the data has to go the more you will pay. It might be $1 if you’re getting off at the first exit, but $10 if you’re going 10 exits. And the more cars you have the more expensive it gets.

“So [with backup] it’s not just the cost of the storage, it’s the cost of getting it there and back. And New Zealand is a long way from the rest of the world.”

The time to get data there and back also plays a role, Forrester says.

He cites the example of one company which backed-up its data to a Singapore service. Its first back up took four years, seven months.

“Download speeds are typically faster, so it will take a little less time to get it all back, but unless you have a dedicated link with immense capacity…,” he says.

“For data you don’t access often, and which isn’t time critical, getting it out to the cloud is not a bad option.

“But if recovery time is important customers should be looking at locally hosted or on-premise.”

Forrester’s views are echoed by Brett Lieblich, ANZ territory manager for backup, archiving and disaster recovery company Unitrends, who says getting data back is where cloud services ‘really get [the customer]’.

“It’s lovely that it’s up in the cloud, but then they need it and it’s not there.

“The reality of the situation is they’ve sent a lot of data and they don’t have a direct link to this data centre in the cloud and it takes days to get it back, at the very least 12-16 hours for a decent chunk of data.”

Both Lieblich and Forrester stress that resellers helping customers with their backup need to factor in both recovery time objective and recovery point objective (RPO).

“If the RPO is long, and they’re an online trading platform, well you can’t lose data or be down in that situation, so it needs to be locally hosted.

“If the customer is a contractor, invoicing monthly, it might be fine to put it in the public cloud because if the invoices are sent one day late, it might be ok.

“The required recovery times, and recovery point – which can vary by business unit [within a company] needs to match the service.

Says Lieblich: “Everyone does backup. It’s not rocket science anymore.

“It’s now about how do you restore and how do you make sure your customer knows how to restore so they’re not calling you, freaking out in the middle of the night about where there data is.

“The restore functionality is what’s important when things go wrong.”

NZ Cloud Backup, which was launched more than a year ago, uses Asigra cloud backup to provide an agentless hardware and platform-agnostic cloud backup, recovery and restore software platform for SMB to enterprise clients.

Forrester says while a lot of systems are designed for the end-user and then retrofitted to enable channel partners to MSP the service, Westcon’s NZ Cloud Backup was designed with the MSP in mind, providing a platform here in New Zealand available to resellers.

“The market is moving fast from capex to opex and integrators are faced with the situation that they could be shut out if they don’t have a cloud platform.”

However, many don’t have the capability or financial ability to build their own cloud platform.

NZ Cloud Backup provides a ‘ready-made’ solution that resellers and integrators can package in with their own services, to provide an opex model for customers, from day one.

NZ Cloud Backup, however, can be packaged in with an integrator or resellers own offerings.

“We’re providing a back end, housed in New Zealand. It’s a very credible robust solution.

Connector Systems is the local distributor for Unitrends, which it has been distributing for a year. Base-2, which sold Unitrends into MIT, has recently signed on as the first ANZ MSP for Unitrends.

The distributor recently signed up Nexsan on the pure storage side.

Mark Dasent, Connector Systems ANZ general manager, says the backup and storage market holds plenty of potential for Connector Systems and it’s resellers, hence its push into the area.

“We haven’t been to heavily involved with it to this point, but it seems like a good opportunity. It’s still growing significantly.”

Lieblick says while there’s good margin to be made up front through selling Unitrends, the low hanging fruit is in adding disaster recoveryon top of the backup solution and being able to use the built-in features to do it.

“Unitrends is focused on providing customer managed solutions or offering solutions our resellers can offer as reseller managed solutions, rather than our own solution as far as cloud goes.

“Partner cloud is something we are stressing in a big way, where partners can offer DR as a service, so they can build their own product on top of our solution and really drive revenue that way.”

The storage story

Cloud is also dominating the storage story, with Mike Romans, Barracuda Networks ANZ country manager saying migration to the cloud and the convergence of primary and secondary storage in the cloud are the biggest trends it is seeing.

“The best example of this convergence in our customer base is the adoption of file sync and share services. People create and store data locally, then sync it to the cloud both for sharing with others and for storing as an offsite ‘backup’,” Romans says.

“We see the cloud as an essential component of enabling mobility by offloading storage from user endpoints.

“It is also an essential component of a complete data protection solution, adding a layer of extra protection and scalability. Typical small and medium sized businesses do not have the time or resources to implement and manage remote replication sites, and the cloud fills this gap nicely.”

He says he expects more and more storage will transition to the cloud.

“Applications will still exist at the edge and on-premises, but much of the storage will be centralised in the cloud. This transition is already happening, especially with secondary data storage (data protection), but at some point in the next five to 10 years, the amount of primary data hosted in the cloud will exceed data hosted locally.”

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