Business Recovery, Step 2: Virtual Disaster Recovery

Nick Cavalancia

The first step in this 8-step business recovery program was to acknowledge the problem of not providing enough business continuity services to your customers (and revenue to your company) and begin by defining what the recovery objectives are for your customer on a per-application basis.

By doing this, you have established a framework of recovery needs to plug in various recovery services into, which I’ll discuss over this 8-part series of blog posts.

Step-TwoSome applications will be important enough that having an ability to recover to the same (or similar) hardware isn’t enough. Take email for example. If your client has an Exchange server running and wants to make sure it can be recovered within an hour with data no more than 4 hours old, that’s an absolute standard. It means no matter what, you have an hour. Period. What if you have no network, no server hardware, how about no building? You have an hour!

How in the world are you going to meet such a strict business recovery need?

Take a step in a virtual direction

The second step in the 8-step program is to add Virtual Disaster Recovery (VDR) to your list of services. If you’re not familiar with it, VDR involves taking backups of critical systems (like your client’s Exchange server) and recovering to a hosted virtual environment.

The benefit to the customer is you are offering a recovery solution that works, no matter the disaster.

What’s required?

To make VDR work, you’re going to need either a hosted or on-premise virtual environment that is lying in wait to be recovered to, should it be necessary. The on-premise environment, in theory, could be one that you place at the customer site at the time of disaster.

What’s the benefit?

Beyond the obvious benefits to the business of recovering operations even in the face of not having server hardware, there are a few other benefits to both you and the client.

  • Recurring Revenue – whether you’re hosting the VDR environment in the cloud or using your own hardware, you’d want to charge your client for having either of these environments lying in wait. And remember, if it’s highly unlikely for more than one of your customers to need the VDR environment simultaneously, you could enjoy revenues from multiple clients for the service of hosting a single environment.
  • Recovery Testing – You will need to test out the combination of your backup solution, your virtual environment, your backup sets, and your staff’s ability to put all three together according to the RTO/RPO established. You benefit by being able to charge for this service each time you perform it. The customer benefits by gaining assurance that their desired recovery objectives will be met.
  • VDR Revenue – This recovery takes more expertise than a simple restore to a server. It may provide you an opportunity to charge more for this recovery because of the technical difficulty involved, as well as because it’s providing your client with a potentially faster recovery, guaranteed in just about any kind of disaster.

In my next article, I’m going to take the concept of VDR, apply the most stringent of recovery objectives to it, and discuss what options exist that will give your customer the same assurance that you can get their business operational again, while increasing your revenues and reputation.

Check back over the coming weeks for more of this great 8-part series!