How to get your DR partner right first time

If you’re reviewing your backup or disaster recovery solution in 2019 then it can be a daunting process. You only have to do a quick google search to discover how many companies offer DR services. Moreover, every backup and disaster recovery service seems to have the same features, benefits and guarantees surrounding them so it becomes impossible to choose. The danger of this is that you buy a solution that isn’t quite right for you as your business adapts and grows, and ties you in for longer that is desired. Here are Plan B’s tips on how to start your disaster recovery procurement process to ensure you get the right provider for you, and avoid costly mistakes.

  1. Existing Suppliers. No doubt, one of the first places you will explore for expertise on disaster recovery is your existing managed service provider or IT support company. You have the benefit of a trusted relationship and it takes away the problem of trying to find another trusted partner so that it can be sorted quickly and easily right? However, looking back at the 2e2 incident, this can be a very risky strategy because you’re effectively putting all of your eggs in one basket. The administrator held all 2e2 customers to ransom and effectively made them pay to have their systems back or lose everything. The concept behind a disaster recovery strategy is that you’re building resilience into your IT systems and protecting yourself against the risk that your IT system won’t function. What happens if your MSP goes under? It will take out your disaster recovery service too! Ideally you should choose a separate DR provider to that which manages your production system, with a completely separate DR platform, operated by a separate entity.
  2. Vendor vs DR Service Provider. Should you choose to look for a separate DR provider to the company managing your production platform (as advised in point 1) this is perhaps one of the first big decisions you should make. Whilst vendors will often deal with enterprises, they haven’t set a business model up to deal directly with the end user. Vendors are about selling  licenses which means that you won’t get the level of support offered by a service provider. Whilst it is important to understand your technology requirements, many service providers will offer an independent view of the technologies available in the market. This means that they can give you a viewpoint on which vendor technology is the best for you, having worked in depth with these technologies on a daily basis. Think of it as a free insider view, the best knowledge available.
  3. Look for the value add. Many disaster recovery specialists will add value to vendor technology. If they have a development arm they will improve the functionality over and above the off-the-shelf vendor technology, as it’s their way of creating competitive advantage. Plan B for example has enhanced the testing within Zerto’s replication technology to deliver automated daily testing to application layer with certification. This checks that the DR platform is operations, all applications mount correctly, all networking requirements and DNS changes are working and the data can run and be seen – effectively checking that the whole recovery process is working every 24 hours. This compares to Zerto’s standard testing which checks that a VM replication has taken place successfully, yet the recovery may still not work due to the other determining factors that need to happen in order to complete a successful recovery. Which would your compliance team prefer? It’ well worth exploring value added functionality with service providers.
  4. Managed or Un-managed? Another important factor to decide upon is how much management of your DR solution do you require? The level of support required can often be determined by your internal resource and budgets. If you decide to use your in-house team to run and manage your DR then you should ensure that there is a structured testing regime built in. Annual testing is not reliable enough – it should be at least every quarter, and should include a full end-to-end DR test. One of the key benefits of outsourcing your DR and having it fully managed is that they take accountability for the testing – a crucial factor to the successful recovery of your IT systems when you need it, which often falls by the wayside.
  5. Experience. As with every procurement process, you should look for experience. This is perhaps more key with DR though than any other service, due to the complexity of a recovery. What you’re effectively asking is for a whole IT system to be built whilst recovering data from just seconds ago should your IT systems go down. A process that normally takes hours/days/weeks is being demanded in just a few minutes. That’s a tall order…..and requires a whole heap of experience. Do your due diligence and ask for references from other customers to make sure you are getting what the’ marketing jargon’ proclaims.

Plan B is a specialist disaster recovery provider offering expertise and enhancements on best-of-breed technologies. To gain advice please call us on 08448 707999 or email info@planb.co.uk