Archive for the ‘Disaster Recovery’ Category

Disaster Recovery Doesn’t Have to Be a Disaster

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Disasters come in many forms. Some are freak, random events that strike out of the blue. Others are completely-preventable lapses in human judgment, or even the result of a malicious act. For any organization, an interruption in operations can be, well, disastrous. But it doesn’t have to be.

Investing in a disaster recovery solution is an investment in safeguarding your business. Interruptions to your operation will happen, but how you proactively prepare and react to the event will help minimize the impact until operations can be fully restored. A rapid and successful disaster recovery depends entirely on what your company does before a disaster ever occurs.

3 Steps to Successful Disaster Recovery

STEP 1: Make a Plan

Various industry surveys report that roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of companies have no viable disaster readiness plan in place. In our modern, interconnected world where a failure in one facet of operations can cascade into a system-wide breakdown, the failure to plan is inexcusable, but something that is easily remedied. Responsible businesses prepare for the worst, and those that do are vastly more capable of weathering a disaster-related interruption.

Any good business continuity plan will identify the key players within the organization (management, IT, HR, etc.) and assign roles and responsibilities to them if and when disaster strikes. A careful risk assessment of the company’s vulnerabilities, a clearly-defined chain-of-command, and overlapping communication and contingency protocols are essential elements of any disaster recovery plan. The participation of your internal IT team and external IT service providers is also critical to a successful and workable plan. Make sure the various stakeholders provide input and air their concerns during planning because, in the midst of a crisis, you don’t want anyone arguing over what to do.

Be sure to plan for multiple causes of downtime as well. Most people think “disaster” means a natural event like storm, fire, or flood. In fact, natural disasters are the most infrequent causes of business interruption. Far more likely are events such as power outages, network and/or hardware failures, human error, or unauthorized access/cyberattacks. By planning for a wide range of potential events and investing in a multi-purpose approach to recovery, you can prepare your company for virtually any scenario. Finally, have a “Plan B” in place, in case Plan A doesn’t work out for some reason.

STEP 2: Protect Your Company Data and Applications

Data protection and recovery lies at the heart of any successful disaster recovery, but DR solutions are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Every company should employ a regular data backup solution so that operations and data access can be rapidly brought back to a pre-disaster state. In addition, investing in virtual desktops enables an organization’s employees to continue working from any location, should the physical damage to the business be too severe.

Work with your disaster recovery solution provider to not only integrate data backup and virtual infrastructure into your plan, but also to develop a tiered approach to recovering your organization’s critical software applications. By organizing your applications into recovery tiers, you can ensure that applications are brought back online according to their level of operational urgency, and enable you to focus on recovery needs during an event.

STEP 3: Test, Test, Test

Once your DR plan is in place, be sure to schedule and run regular testing drills to make sure the plan actually works. The time to discover weaknesses or holes in your plan is not during an actual disaster event. Regular testing will expose any inefficiencies in the plan or confusion on the part of stakeholders, and gives your management the confidence that the solution in place was worth the investment. This will make it easier to justify updates and expansions of the DR system as technology evolves and new threats emerge later down the road.

The Fourth (and most important) Step

An additional step in successful disaster recovery—and a critical one at that—is to pick the right Disaster Recovery-as-a-Solution (DRaaS) provider. When selecting a provider, be sure to consider not only their recovery technology offerings, but also their business maturity and level of expertise. Look for a provider with the technology you require, and the levels of knowledge and professionalism that match your business objectives.

A good provider partner should be willing to help you plan and implement a disaster recovery program that meets your Recovery Time Objectives (RTO), as well as offer confidence-building resources such as third-party validations of their solutions, comprehensive Service Level Agreements (SLAs), signed certificates of testing, a dashboard to monitor and manage real-time analytics, etc.

Every minute counts in the event of a disaster and interruption in business continuity. To ensure a rapid recovery and resumption of operations—as well as to mitigate any loss of data, revenue, or customers—it is worth the time and investment to develop and implement a proper disaster recovery plan. The keys to success are a proactive approach that recognizes (and respects) the danger to your business, and selecting the right provider partner to meet your recovery goals.

 

A Real-Life Example of Planning for Disaster Recovery

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DaaS solutions prove their worth when the unexpected happens…even for us.

When we talk about disaster recovery and business continuity, we often think about it in terms of a catastrophe—destructive events that directly impact an organization’s physical location and equipment. Not every business interruption is catastrophic, however; in fact, most are short-term problems—power outages, hardware malfunctions, simple human error—that are quickly and easily remedied. Not every interruption is related to the organization’s physical location, either; rather, it is some random, external incident with effects that cascade down the line to suspend business-as-usual. Such interruptions are still costly, nonetheless.

A recent example of such an event occurred in Atlanta, with a massive fire that destroyed an interstate bridge and cut off a heavily-traveled section of highway for weeks. When the initial disaster happened, a 100 ft. section of highway collapsed. Tens of thousands of motorists were stranded, with no way to get to work. Nearly a quarter million vehicles use this section of highway every day, and the immediate disruption to local businesses was staggering. Given the time required to repair the bridge, ongoing traffic issues will continue to make life difficult for area employees, including our own staff in Green Cloud’s Atlanta offices.

Again, for companies taking proactive disaster recovery efforts, this interruption in business continuity as their workers sat idle on a highway had nothing to do with their infrastructure, or their data storage and backup plans. No failover contingency could be employed, and there was no hardware to restore. This was an operational interruption that was completely external and out of anyone’s control. The only element of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that mattered here was an investment in virtual desktops.

A good Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution—such as the one employed by Green Cloud—enables employees to log into company servers from a remote location and access an exact copy of their workstation, including all files, email, and other applications. This meant that motorists stuck in traffic or otherwise unable to get to the office because of the event could still address business issues and continue to get work done using their laptops or other mobile devices. DaaS’ ability to mitigate the effects of such an event, and to quickly restore some level of operations in an emergency is critical to recovery. In addition to allowing remote employees to continue servicing customers, a virtual desktop solution saves companies valuable time in restoring full operations and prevents a major loss of revenue.

In our case, Green Cloud employees used a DaaS solution to continue monitoring our area data center operations, communicate with fellow staff members across the country, and handle customer accounts with no discernible interruption in quality or timeliness of service.

When assessing risks to your company during the disaster recovery planning phase, try not to think about the totality of possibilities. It is impossible to prepare for every event, but it is definitely possible to build a plan that focuses on business functionality instead. If your core business has a set number of operations that must be fulfilled (customer communications, order entry, inventory management, real-time reporting, etc.), make sure your plan addresses those operations, regardless of why they might get interrupted. As we’ve seen in the Atlanta incident, one key to maintaining business continuity is a solid virtual desktop solution.

Green Cloud and Veeam’s Business-Boosting Offer Continues!

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Announcing an extension to our popular Cloud Connect promotion.

Back in February, Veeam launched a promotion for the nearly quarter-million end-users of their Cloud Connect services, offering eligible customers up to $1,000 in FREE Cloud Connect services. On top of that, Green Cloud gave eligible partners special promotional rates of $0.05 per GB for signing up their customers to Veeam’s Cloud Connect.

The response to the limited-time promotion was overwhelming, so on April 3rd, Veeam announced that they would extend the promotional dates by three months.

Originally, customers had until the end of March to sign up for this promotion and until June 30, 2017, to use their FREE Cloud Connect Services. With the extension, customers now have until June 30 to sign up, and all participants must use their FREE Cloud Connect Services by September 30, 2017. Eligible Green Cloud partners can also take advantage of the extension to continue receiving promotional rates for signing your customers to Veeam Cloud Connect.

About Veeam Cloud Connect

Veeam Cloud Connect enables end-users to extend their data availability to the cloud with comprehensive, industry-leading backup, replication, and disaster recovery technologies. Best of all, Veeam’s Cloud Connect services are built right into their suite of backup and recovery products—end-users only need a few minutes to activate Cloud Connect and get started through a back-end configuration console.

Veeam Cloud Connect Backup integrates hosted cloud repositories directly into the console, giving end-users complete control of their backup and recovery management tasks. In the event of a failover, Veeam Cloud Connect Replication provides a seamless transition to VM replicas. Working together, these cloud solutions keep your customers’ data secure and available—and their businesses up-and-running—at all times.

Eligibility Requirements

Green Cloud partners wishing to take advantage of the promotional rate offer must be listed in the directory of Veeam-powered services (to help you generate and receive new leads) and Green Cloud must be designated as your VCSP.

Eligible end-users must own or purchase Veeam Backup & Replication, Veeam Availability Suite, or Veeam Backup Essentials (any edition), and be current on maintenance at the time of registration. Customers already using Cloud Connect services are also eligible, as long as the funds from this offer are used to either expand their service or purchase new services.

To qualify for this limited time offer, customers must register for an activation code by June 30, 2017, and use their FREE Cloud Connect services by September 30, 2017. Limit of one activation code per Veeam customer account.

Click here for registration instructions, or contact Green Cloud’s sales or support team for assistance.

 

Contact Marketing@gogreencloud.com for more information or assistance.

FIVE STEPS TO SMART DISASTER RECOVERY PLANNING

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After a disaster has struck is not the right time for your customer to be figuring out what to do. As with most things in life, the best solution to possible disaster is a healthy dose of prevention. By proactively managing the most common threats— system failure, facility damage, data theft, cyber attacks, etc.—with comprehensive disaster recovery practices, you can help your customer mitigate much of the risk to business continuity.

Without a solid plan, your customer is rolling the dice on irreversible damage to their business. They may not realize it, but they need a robust disaster recovery plan. A proactive DR plan should be included in any solution you offer—and there are plenty of viable solutions out there—but what are the fundamentals of a good disaster recovery plan?

STEP 1: Assess Risk – Before designing a DR plan for your customer, you should conduct a thorough risk assessment to analyze the systems being utilized and identify any potential threats to your client’s mission-critical operations. In addition, you should evaluate not only the customer’s physical facility for risk indicators (e.g., is it located in a disaster-prone area?) but also the recovery facility for factors such as regional proximity to your customer, levels of security and redundancy, etc.

STEP 2: Define RPO and RTO – This step is critical because it is where you determine what kind of DR plan your customer requires. If their organization can withstand significant downtime while they recover, then there isn’t much of an issue that even the most basic plan can’t address. After all, the name of the game here is how quickly you can get the customer up-and-running again. If time isn’t a factor, then a simple solution will do. If, however, like many organizations, no amount of downtime it tolerable, then a more immediate solution is required.

Carefully assess your customer’s acceptable Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) to determine the applications that will satisfy both, and refer often to these two goals to help prioritize what the customer’s plan requires to survive a business disaster.

STEP 3: Communicate with Personnel / Assign Tasks – Developing a good communication plan among your customer’s staff is an important, but often overlooked step. Help your customer determine who needs to do what in the event of a disaster. How they access their data and resume activities during an interruption in business continuity should be determined beforehand and communicated to all employees, to avoid the inevitable confusion that sets in during a disaster. Make sure your customer assigns proper roles and responsibilities to critical staff members because decision paralysis often hampers the internal “first-response” team.

STEP 4: Manage Sensitive Data – Every organization has sensitive data, whether it be proprietary resources, sensitive employee records, or customer account information. A good DR plan should ensure that all confidential data and information is regularly backed up, properly secured, and immediately recoverable when the plan is activated.

STEP 5: Test the Plan Regularly – Once your customer has a DR plan in place, you should assist them in testing it regularly. Failure to test on a consistent basis will likely result in creeping inefficiencies or even failure if a disaster occurs. The more comprehensive the test, the better it will work and the more successful your customer will be in getting back on track if the business is interrupted.

Every customer is unique, every solution is different, and there are too many variables to cover all possibilities. But a good risk plan starts with these fundamentals. By addressing a strong disaster recovery plan as part of your offering, you do more to help your customer’s business recovery efforts than any amount of hardware or software can do on its own. Follow these basic steps, and your customer can be confident that they’re prepared if and when disaster strikes.

Boost Your Business with Great Offers from Green Cloud and Veeam

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Help your customers achieve the best results in cloud backup, replication, and disaster recovery with Veeam Cloud Connect.

Through June 30, 2017, Veeam is running an incredible promotion for the nearly quarter-million end-users of their Cloud Connect services. Eligible customers will receive up to $1,000 in FREE Cloud Connect services. And to sweeten the deal, Green Cloud is offering special rates of $0.05 per GB to our eligible partners who sign up their customers.

About Veeam Cloud Connect

Veeam Cloud Connect enables end-users to extend their data availability to the cloud with comprehensive, industry-leading backup, replication, and disaster recovery technologies. Best of all, Veeam’s Cloud Connect services are built right into their suite of backup and recovery products—end-users only need a few minutes to activate Cloud Connect and get started through a back-end configuration console.

Veeam Cloud Connect Backup integrates hosted cloud repositories directly into the console, giving end-users complete control of their backup and recovery management tasks. In the event of a failover, Veeam Cloud Connect Replication provides a seamless transition to VM replicas. Working together, these cloud solutions keep your customers’ data secure and available—and their businesses up-and-running—at all times.

Eligibility Requirements

Green Cloud partners wishing to take advantage of the promotional rate offer must be listed in the directory of Veeam-powered services (to help you generate and receive new leads) and Green Cloud must be designated as your VCSP.

Eligible end-users must own or purchase Veeam Backup & Replication, Veeam Availability Suite, or Veeam Backup Essentials (any edition), and be current on maintenance at the time of registration. Customers already using Cloud Connect services are also eligible, as long as the funds from this offer are used to either expand their service or purchase new services.

To qualify for this limited time offer, customers must register for an activation code by March 31, 2017, and use their FREE Cloud Connect services by June 30, 2017. Limit of one activation code per Veeam customer account.

Click here for registration instructions, or contact Green Cloud’s sales or support team for assistance.

Contact Marketing@gogreencloud.com for more information or assistance.