Firms Expect DR Systems To Be Driven Based On Business Needs.

Businesses today demand business-driven disaster recovery systems (DRS) that enable them to run critical applications quickly.

Today’s situation is quite different than it was a decade ago when DR has associated with IT recovery. Chris Toushan, president and CEO of SunGard Availability Services Canada, Toronto, stated that.

He stated that the focus was on data backup and ensuring power could be restored quickly. It was the one running the show, which was not surprising. However, today there is a growing recognition that business needs must drive recovery.

Sebastien Ruest is vice president for services research at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto.

“Back then, disaster recovery consisted mainly of backing up tapes every 24 hours and transporting them to a data storage facility. This solution is no more acceptable.”

Ruest estimates that only 30% of Ontario businesses have a complete business continuity plan.

Aegon Canada Inc. is a member of this exclusive 30 per cent club.

Aegon Canada, a Toronto-based division of a global insurer firm, recognizes the importance of faster business recovery.

John Pistilli, Aegon Canada, stated, “our financial losses would be substantial if our systems fail to run in the shortest possible time.”

Pistilli stated that Aegon used backup tapes for daily operations a few years back. They were transported every night to a storage location.

This system was a disaster. The files had to be found and returned to the company’s headquarters. Toucan stated that although it was cost-effective, it had its limitations.

He said that in the event of a disaster, a company would have records of transactions until a backup is made. It can take up to 72 hours to completely restore operations.

Toucan stated, “Today, that is not unacceptable for most companies because they can lose a lot of money for every moment they are down.”

Ruest stated that the traditional data backup scenario (or mirroring) of a company’s systems was not being considered. He said that even if data were recovered and power restored at headquarters, it would be challenging to stage or tiered recovery operations.

Toucan advocates “high-availability” systems, where data from companies is sent in real-time to separate servers.

SunGard facilities “mirror” the company’s systems. Disaster strikes, and the data is transmitted back to the client or the emergency personnel.

This service can cost three to ten times as much as a backup tape system. SunGard claims it allows clients to resume the most critical operations and recover quickly.

“Resumption of operations takes between one and two hours, and data can be recovered up until the point of failure,” Then, they stated that no transaction is lost.

Sunward offers backup facilities, which Patrick Dempsey, DR consultant from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, calls “hot spots”.

Dempsey stated that companies should consider what level or percentage of operations they can tolerate during and after a disaster when developing a business continuity program.

“If an officer of a firm is taken out, it should have an emergency hot site that can take over operations. It should allow the firm to perform 80 per cent of its normal functions.

Ruest stated that despite the disruptions caused by the SARS epidemic and blackout in Toronto a few years ago, DR budgets for most Canadian companies had remained the same.

Many firms view DR as a type of insurance. He said that they think only about disasters when they happen, which reveals a lack of understanding of DR’s purpose and what it entails.

Argon can recover level-one operations such as telephone systems, online directories and client transaction data within 8 to 24 hours of a failure.

Aegon stated that data replication occurs every 15 minutes through data transmission to a SunGard hot site. This site displays a mirror image of Aegon’s operating system.

If Aegon’s operations are disrupted, Aegon’s management team can drive to the site from the SunGard facility and operate the system.

Aegon shares the facility with other companies. The company’s growth is prompting them to look at a dedicated model where the backup facility can be used primarily for its operations.

Pistilli stated that operations recovery would be possible within four hours with a dedicated site.

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