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Preventative Measures: Outsourcing Your Proprietary Data
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By Raj Narayanaswamy

In this post 9/11 culture, businesses and government agencies are taking extreme preventative measures to protect critical proprietary and customer-related data. The survival of businesses today necessitates protection from more than just natural disasters, such as earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and storms. Business operations also need protection from other potential dangers, including riots, strikes, terrorist actions and cyberspace hackers.

A disaster can have a profoundly catastrophic affect on total business operations, leaving an organization unable to function. Therefore, it is mission critical for businesses to have a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan set in stone. For businesses that can’t afford even a second of down time, building a DR system in-house is vital. These businesses include large banks and financial institutions and web-based service providers. For enterprises that can afford some down time, outsourcing data to a DR Service provider is recommended.

Entrusting critical data to a third party DR Service provider requires risk avoidance and careful selection. Therefore, it is important to invest in proper business impact analysis and research before choosing a DR Service provider. According to The Data Center Journal article entitled “Disaster Recovery Provider Checklist,” the following issues must be evaluated when seeking contract services for disaster recovery:

Service provider’s focus on the DR business: The service provider should be dedicated to Disaster Recovery services. Enterprises entrust their business survival to their DR services partner. If the service provider is distracted by other business priorities, it will be difficult to retain the level of dedicated support required.

World-class infrastructure: The DR Service provider should have world-class infrastructure. It includes a robust data center, power distribution system; FM-200 based fire-suppression system; precision air conditioning, etc. The data center should have multiple Internet gateways and basic operator exchanges co-located in the premises. This would ensure that hosted applications are available on a 24x7 basis.

Quality accreditation: It is desirable that the service provider, and in particular their disaster recovery business, be certified for quality. International quality accreditations certify that the service provider will deliver international standard services. It is also important that the service provider takes steps to keep abreast of developments in the industry.

Experience: Service providers should have the expertise to manage ‘live’ disasters. The critical things to look out for are the years they have been in business, recovery tests performed annually, ‘live’ disaster cases successfully managed, satisfactory reference sites, etc. It is very important that the service provider has the necessary skill-sets to understand mission-critical applications. They should genuinely understand the technology involved in maintaining and restoring vital documents and equipment. There are instances where many businesses have lost critical capacity and data through the naïve efforts of office-cleaning companies masquerading as salvage services.

Scope of service: Service providers should understand and fulfill the full range of an enterprise’s critical service requirements, e.g. different operating platforms, communication services, integrated applications, etc. Remember, it is not just replication of software or storage of data; Service providers should have the capability to converge the entire infrastructure to an alternate site.

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Ray Narayanasway is the Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Replicon.
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