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 work around 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.”