02 Oct 2012
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Wake up to the shake up

By Contributor

Contributed by Keith Newman.

There are some serious challenges ahead for the channel in disaster recovery and business continuity, as Keith Newman discovers in our four-part feature.

Systems integrators and resellers are being challenged to step up to the plate with enhanced skills and capabilities as clients become deadly serious about resilience and re-evaluate business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR).

The BCDR landscape has been given a major shake-up with the Canterbury and Japanese earthquakes, high profile outages in the banking and telecommunications sectors, and growing security concerns about privacy, data loss and theft.

The amount of data organisations are dealing with is also presenting complications as virtualisation, cloud offerings and new management tools force a rethink about disaster recovery and who’s carrying the can.

IDC New Zealand senior market analyst Louise Francis, says third-party service providers, resellers and systems integrators need to be more accountable when recommending, implementing and maintaining BCDR.

In particular, service-level agreements (SLAs) around availability can have significant financial consequences if there’s a failure. “SLAs will become increasingly stringent and IDC expects the market to shift toward risk-reward based pricing models with providers having to show BCDR testing results as part of this,” says Francis.

And she says it’s imperative that rather than leaving it to the IT department, CEOs and company directors drive strong BCDR planning; a top-down approach that often kicks in after high profile disasters, and showed up clearly after the 1998 Auckland power crisis.

There are some serious challenges ahead for the channel in disaster recovery and business continuity, as Keith Newman discovers in our four-part feature.

Reviewing resilience

Just after the Canterbury earthquake in 2011, an IDC Asia Pacific survey including 100 New Zealand companies, showed only 2.7% rated BCDR capabilities as critical for their next service provider renewal – by 2012 it had skyrocketed to 40%.

Most sought-after BCDR services are network infrastructure management, server infrastructure management, storage infrastructure and network management.

Francis says the integration of security as part of BCDR presents a big opportunity for resellers and systems integrators, as CIOs, particularly in the mid-market, are challenged by increasingly sophisticated threats.

A recent IDC survey of 250 companies revealed business resiliency is driving BCDR initiatives for two-thirds, followed by overall security concerns such as interruptions through malware, viruses and denial of service, which can compromise information security and impact business continuity.

Regulatory pressure, including data sovereignty and privacy issues, corporate governance and productivity were other driving factors.

Francis says there are opportunities for addressing concerns, including lack of user awareness in adhering to security policies; particularly with the rise of BYOD (bring your own devices), complex multiple channel environments and a lack of IT skills to adequately implement BCDR technologies.

She says the channel should encourage the adoption of highly available servers, backup and archive systems, storage tiering and upgrading networks along with replication software, availability and clustering software and virtualisation software. “There will also be opportunities associated with data centre modernisation and developing BCDR systems that integrate well with a modernised infrastructure.”

There are some serious challenges ahead for the channel in disaster recovery and business continuity, as Keith Newman discovers in our four-part feature.

Market and data reshuffle

While it’s difficult to separate out IT services from software and hardware investment in BCDR, IDC New Zealand tracked overall spending of just over $200 million in 2011 with year on year growth averaging 5.6%.

The top five players were HP, Datacom, IBM, Gen-i and Revera but together they accounted for only a quarter of the market, leaving opportunities wide open for smaller service providers.

“While Datacom and IBM experienced strong double-digit growth in 2011, Dimension Data doubled its share from to 4% in 2011 and is now on a par with Gen-i and IBM,” says IDC’s Louise Francis.

She says more companies are actively testing and monitoring BCDR systems to identify gaps and system interdependencies to protect productivity and reduce downtime.

Companies that previously relied on cheaper solutions such as server reimaging and data restoration from backups are now showing serious interest in cloud-based continuity and recovery. However, there are still a number of challenges to be addressed.

These include network latency, bandwidth requirements, integration with multiple legacy systems, service provider SLAs and vendor management.

There are some serious challenges ahead for the channel in disaster recovery and business continuity, as Keith Newman discovers in our four-part feature.

Prioritising data needs

One of the big market shifts is ‘big data’; the exponential growth of information that needs to be stored and managed by most businesses, which Sydney-based Gartner research vice president Phil Sargeant says is having a major impact on BCDR.

Even five years ago 120 terabytes seemed a lot of data but you could still back it up and recover it without too much difficulty, he says. “Today dealing with 500-600Tb puts a different complexion on the matter; it requires a lot more capital investment to replicate between data centres and then recover.”

Sargeant says this places great stress on BCDR systems which have to be approached differently than in the past.

“Even a decade ago you would back up on tape daily, weekly or monthly and be able to restore 10Tb in around two hours. Today, if you have 500Tb or a petabyte of data it might take two or three days to recover. No organisation can afford to be down that long.”

Sargeant says the whole process requires stepping back and evaluating what it is you are backing up and why, then prioritising, based on what is needed to get back up and running. Too often he says the focus is on the technology rather than understanding the data.

He says there’s a need for IT managers and key people in each department to become more intimate with their data so they know what is important, and what’s associated with which application and workload.

Sargeant says the big data boom presents the perfect opportunity for reseller channels and integrators to educate their clients and partners. In fact, he suggests it is a responsibility to ensure clients know which part of their data they need ‘to get back on air straight away’.

Resellers can then recommend some of the technologies that make life easier, including data classification, replication and virtualisation.

“There are huge opportunities to create differentiation and mindshare by articulating what is needed in the changing world of big data and to outline what needs to be done over a one, two and three-year time frame,” he says.

And Sargeant says those who’ve been cagey about virtualisation and all it offers may need to take another look, particularly when reviewing BCDR needs.

It’s no longer a buzz word, has gone way beyond server consolidation, and is now ubiquitous and a major adjunct to business continuity and disaster recovery, making life easier when automating processes, moving workaround or load balancing.

“If something is going astray or amiss these mechanisms can shovel work somewhere else. For example, if a server dies it can restart that work in a virtually seamless fashion somewhere else.”

He believes the more astute resellers are well aware of what is happening and the technology that is needed to move their clients forward, and says the sophisticated approach is to build relationships across a number of vendors.

“If you are just an IBM or an HP box reseller that will satisfy a need but there’s no differentiation, it’s simply a relationship built on price and support.”

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