Solutions selling is the name of the game for the business continuity/DR marketplace today. This is the single most important and clear message from practitioners to the vendor community coming from the May 4, 2010 Wikibon Peer Incite discussion on zero data loss strategies. On the call, the Wikibon community was joined by two practitioners from global financial firms holding senior level IT positions with extensive experience in IT management, disaster recovery and business continuity. It has been more than 20 years since the industry began the transition from a focus on data center recovery to business continuity planning and understanding the role technology plays in enabling the recovery of normal business operations in the face of operational failures of many types. However, according to these experts, the vendor community has a ways to go to better understand recoverability requirements, costs, and benefits unique to each business they sell to.
Be Reasonable and Practical
This core message about recovery solutions was supported with other guidance from the practitioner community:
- Sell solutions on a more practical and reasonable basis. Soft costs and artificial savings are difficult to project. Understand the business and quantify data and service loss in terms of human efforts, business opportunity cost, loss in productivity, and reputation.
- Sell solutions on the basis that:
- Can guaranty functionality and benefits.
- Demonstrates how the solution will work in my business and technology environment, and,
- Will convince customers that complexities can be overcome.
- If the solution is overly complex, support it with services.
- Sell a solution (product, services, support) – not a fragmented product. *Demonstrate that you understand the problem and show examples of peer solutions (industry peers, please).
Data Recording and Information Dispersal
Example of Two Protection and Recovery Strategies
Practitioners must consider several trade-offs when deciding on data protection and recovery solutions. For example, on the call we raised the point about the differences between “electronic data recording (EDR)” and “information dispersal algorithm (IDA)“ technologies as solutions data protection and recovery. EDR uses a hardened “cache”, or persistent storage to synchronously replicate data from a main site. This is a buffer to data centers situated at asynchronous distances from each other. If data at the primary site is lost, the 'delta' data in the EDR can be rolled forward through alternate networks and synchronized to the secondary or recovery site.
IDA, on the other hand, is a completely different solutions strategy and architecture. IDAs split data into multiple pieces and allow it to be recovered from some threshold subset of those pieces. In a typical implementation, a data center might create an IDA environment which is 10-of-15. This requires that 10 data streams, nodes, or storage locations be accessed to continue processing or recover data in the case of a disaster or data loss event. However, if 10 of 15 nodes fail or are affected by a disaster, all data recovered is unusable. On the flip side, if fewer than 10 nodes are attacked by a side channel, hacker, or malware, the data will have no value.
Both technologies can be configured to provide zero data loss solutions to an enterprise, but the vendor AND end-user must be able to determine the trade-offs in terms of cost, value, complexity, interoperability, recoverability, maturity, and a host of other factors.
Action Item: The vendor community must engage practitioners in recovery solutions selling. This means clearly demonstrating knowledge of business requirements and data protection options. At the same time, the BCDR practitioner must stay connected to innovations in data protection and recovery technologies and be able to engage in the debate of the pros, cons, and business trade-offs offered by the BCDR solutions marketplace.