Channel Partners Become Data Protection Insurance Providers

By Darrell Riddle

Disasters can strike at any time and in any place. Although there are some warnings for storms or other weather events, the majority of IT issues come from human error or malicious acts. You dont get much warning for those events. A simple act, such as a poorly trained cleaning crew using the wrong plug can bring data centers to their knees and cause alarms to ring after hours. As anyone in the channel and service provider market knows, those 2 a.m. customer calls can put a strain on your business and relations with them. Some may think that you can instantly reload that data from a tape or disk; in reality, the process is much more complicated as you may very well know. The complete IT service needs to be brought back online, not just the data. CIOs and IT managers must be educated about looking at data protection and disaster recovery (DR) planning from the viewpoint of protecting the entire IT service.  Many of them are trusting in their channel partner to show them the way. By educating customers, channel partners add value and assist companies in ensuring a resilient datacenter that eliminates or minimizes unplanned downtime that can occur inside companies.

Channel partners can help set expectations for their customers by showing how DR plans must encompass the entire data center infrastructure and keep critical services online. It could be compared to an insurance plan. Companies carry insurance plans to prevent against physical damage. Why not implement an insurance plan to protect the most valuable asset data and IT services? Using specific information related to a customers industry, channel partners can demonstrate how much money is lost per hour during an IT outage. On average, most companies state that they can only afford downtime of four hours or less at any one time. Even if a customer believes they can withstand downtime, the reality is there are lots of losses that can be associated to this downtime. The following graph from the  IDG Research Services Report, Quick Poll: Disaster Recovery Trends and Metrics,” clearly demonstrates the impact downtime has on a company.

The channel partner can play a role in clearly stating that the traditional methods of DR and data protection are just not enough. They do not work with current infrastructures due to the growing amount of data and the increasing complexity of IT environments. For example, businesses cannot fully protect data using traditional file-by-file based backup anymore. Technologies such as replication and image-based backups offer a different kind of assurance, but often do not fully account for inner workings of applications and services. Couple all this with complex and multiple storage methods at each customer site, including disk, tape and virtual and you all of a sudden have a strange brew.” Today, when channel partners receive that middle-of-the-night call, they would have to take numerous steps, each requiring system reboots, to bring the IT infrastructure back online.  If one step is missed or handled incorrectly, the process has to be started all over again. What channel partner would like to restart a critical IT reboot after being awoken from REM sleep?

With an automated DR solution, the channel partner becomes the hero. This solution them the best possible insurance plan because it ensures that complete IT services can be fully tested before disasters happen. Errors, omissions or specialized steps can be dealt with before an actual production disaster happens. Simply put, automated DR takes all the time-consuming data services recovery steps and automates them. Now, only a single click of the mouse is needed to start the recovery process, rather than the countless hours that are often a nail biting time for clients. Channel partners can make automated DR part of their regular offering and process for new customers as well as existing customers. Even if you think you have a good insurance plan today, it never hurts to have that “yearly checkup.”.

To determine if automated DR is right for your customers, consider these six questions regarding data protection and how the data is sent to a DR site and then back to production environment:

  1. What is the customers current DR plan? How long does it take to recover data and systems?
  2. What systems and services is the customer running?  Which ones are considered mission-critical? Are they protected by the current DR plan?
  3. Is it possible to test the DR plan without causing downtime at the customer site?
  4. If physical machines are in the customer environment, how are these protected? Do customers require identical physical machines to be at the DR site or can a virtual machine be used?
  5. How difficult is it to recover the customers information to a specific point in time rather than the last data replication?
  6. If items are moved temporarily to the DR site, how hard is it to bring this information back to the main data center?

By installing automated DR solutions at customer sites, channel partners implement effective insurance policies against downtime and data loss. Understanding a customers business needs and proactively taking the steps to prevent any future loss allows partners to become true business partners, trusted advisors and hero to their customers.

Darrell Riddle, senior director of product marketing for

FalconStor Software

, has
more than 23 years of experience in product management, marketing, field enablement, product integration activities, engineering, quality assurance and IT management. He has an extensive understanding of technical and business aspects of the data protection computer industry. Prior to joining FalconStor, Riddle worked at Symantec.

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