For example, your Exchange mail server can be restarted on the appliance in eight to 12 minutes, and the end-users will have all email through the last copy of data, typically 15 minutes ago, and can run the Exchange server with no changes on their desktops or laptops. Running a server on the appliance is basically invisible to the end-user. When the failed server is repaired, the server running on the appliance can be restored to the real or virtual server.
The other methodologies listed earlier in this article have their advantages and disadvantages, but all are only backups of your data, which may copy your data to another site. Many of the methods require extensive restore times and could cause long interruptions in service. We recommended options three through five until 2007, but only use these methods in certain situations today.
BUSINESS CONTINUITY SERVICES
There are many providers of business continuity services in the North American market. Examples include Agility Solutions, IBM, Iron Mountain and SunGard. Our favorite example of this category of BC/DR solution is Agility Solutions. Agility responded to more than 400 disaster-related events in 2008 in 30 states, the District of Columbia and one Canadian province.
The types of disasters the company has handled include power outages, communications failures, technology failures, construction issues, flooding, HVAC malfunctions, fires, lightning strikes, mold, rat infestation, worker strikes, hurricanes and ice storms. Consider what you would classify as a failure against this list. Agility has mobile trailers of equipment that they can bring to your disaster recovery site, establish communications, and help make your computer and phone systems run. Agility’s mission is to handle any or all of the four key recovery elements within 48 hours of any interruption: Power, Technology, Space and Connectivity.
Some of their services are provided à la carte such as power generators, technology, space options — mobile, office, retail or phone re-direction. The basic contract is quite inexpensive, and we have seen many businesses preserved by their efforts. Agility’s ReadySuite membership solution addresses the typical high-cost, high-frustration factor associated with business continuity planning and gives your firm immediate protection the day you become a member.
One additional capability we recommend is their MyAgility online planning resource. MyAgility gives you 24/7 online access to your customized recovery plan. They have quick access to popular tools and resources. They store critical documents and contact databases for easy communication via the Alert Notification System, and they also maintain a fixed-asset inventory database.
BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING TOOLS
We want all firms to have BC/DR plans, but this task is often bypassed as a project or given a low priority when time or money is constrained. BC/DR plans are not trivial to create, and if you are new to this area, you may want to get professional help or find the right expertise.
Alternatively, there are products like the MyAgility suite cited above, the Iron Mountain planning tool or another product we like in this category like Survivor or Statistic. These products provide the basic strategies and documents to help your team develop a BC/DR plan.
Even with the best of these tools, we think that training is certainly needed. K2 Enterprises (www.k2e.com) has developed an all-day BC/DR course for the CPE market for 2010 and beyond. This course is intended to take you from limited knowledge of BC/DR planning to a working plan using some of the best techniques available. We will include exposure on helpful strategies and products such as Abacus, NetRescue, Agility and more.
THE WORST CHOICE OF ALL IS DOING NOTHING
The choices listed above are affordable for businesses of all sizes. From simple web backups to backup appliances to full scale BC/DR plans, there are solutions for your firm. What’s appropriate for you? You will have to assess your risk tolerance. Many of these services are just a few billable hours in cost, but they could save your firm from a huge short-term loss or the loss of the firm entirely. Do you want to be responsible for that loss?