Disaster recovery services for solution providers

In this interview on disaster recovery-related opportunities for storage solution providers, StorageIO Group's Greg Schulz explains the biggest DR problems for customers and how solution providers can help, the difference between hot and cold backups and when each should be recommended, how virtualization has affected the DR market, and where the DR-related MSP opportunities are.

Read the full transcript from this video below:

Disaster recovery services for solution providers

Colin Steele: Hi. This is Colin Steele, News Writer for Tech Target’s Channel Media Group. Thanks for tuning into this IT Channel videocast. Today’s guest is Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst for StorageIO. Thanks for joining us, Greg.

Greg Schulz: Hello. Great. My pleasure to be here today.

Steele: Greg, what are businesses’ bigger disaster recovery issues, and how can solution providers help customers address them?

Schulz: Some of the biggest issues, one, is realizing the fact that the data needs to be protected. The big issue is cost and being able to get the work done in a timely manner. In other words, the perception is that disaster recovery business continuance is not affordable. The reality is it’s taking a step back, looking at the different aspects of an organization, of a business. Rather than trying to protect the entire business at a high cost point, at a high recovery point, no loss of data, no downtime, is take and segment. Look at certain applications, take a step back and categorize. Use tiered protection; tiered DR, tiered BCDR. Critical applications have one category, one type of recovery. That way, it becomes more affordable.

Steele: Can you explain the difference between hot and cold backups?

Schulz: Sure. Kind of like as their name implies: One is hot backup; backing-up the data while it’s in use, while activity is taking place. Cold backup: There’s a defined window, shut the systems down, pause the applications, grab all the data, back it up. What’s the difference? One is being able to back up without impacting the applications, maintaining productivity, maintaining efficiency, getting work done. The other is making sure that you have all the data backed up -- a complete comprehensive backup. The challenge there is balancing that downtime to get that comprehensive backup with the desire to keep applications available and productive. The hybrid there is using application-aware snapshots and application-aware data protection where there’s a momentary pause, a momentary disruption to the application, but that they continue to work, essentially creating a virtual backup window.

Steele: When should a reseller recommend hot backup versus cold backup and vice versa?

Schulz: What it really comes down to is, getting in, understanding what that customer’s issues are. What are their different recovery time objectives, recovery point objectives? However, stepping back further and looking at the different applications: Is email critical? Does that require a RTO/RPO of zero, or can there be some tolerance for delaying getting that backup? Literally, looking at it and doing a business impact analysis, a BIA, looking at the different applications, the different requirements, and assigning the particular level of protection to the different quality of service, the different service objectives, and the different service-level requirements.

Steele: How is virtualization affected the DR market, and what opportunities does that present for resellers?

Schulz:  There’s several opportunities here. Certainly, with the focus today around virtualization in the form of consolidation, compressing, compacting down, driving up utilization, the immediate opportunity is for VAR channel professionals to go in and help your customers re-architect, reengineer, and tune up the existing data protection: how backup is done, how replication is done, how snapshots are done; making sure that there’s that linkage between the VMs, the virtual machine environments, and the applications for application-aware.

Going forward, there’s also the opportunity for bringing in other virtualized technologies, such as virtual tape libraries, virtual disc libraries, to help bridge that gap. To leverage the fact that virtualization is more than consolidation, the key tenet is emulation abstraction: leveraging virtual tapes to help transition, to migrate new technologies in, while maintaining that coexistence, that compatibility. Moving forward, turn the story around, which is using that abstraction capability to allow non-consolidated environments to have seamless operations to transition from disaster recovery -- recovery, restoring, restarting -- to business continuance, which is resume, restart, continue the operations.

Steele: Finally, Greg, are there any manage service opportunities in VR, for resellers?

Schulz: Absolutely. The most notable would be a managed service backup: being a target to be able to, when you’re backing up your data, send it offsite, send it to a managed service provider. Think of managed service, managed storage solutions as just another tier of storage, or in the case of cloud computing service, as another tier of service.

Certainly, there’s that opportunity to backup remotely, to get the data offsite, or to off-sort. The other one is a target for replication. If you’re going to evolve from backup to replication is leverage solution providers for that replication, and then certainly, archiving. Archiving is very, very important; if you can archive data, then go in and delete that data once it’s been archived, once you’ve captured it, moved it, migrated it, now there’s less data to be backed up. There are plenty of opportunities there.

Steele: All right. Greg Schulz, senior analyst and founder of StorageIO, thanks for joining us. Thanks for tuning in to this IT Channel videocast. For more information, check out SearchStorageChannel.com.

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