But most companies don’t have the expertise and resources to create a business continuity solution on their own. What they now look for is a true partner in business continuity, similar to the relationship they’ve come to expect from an IT provider. And no longer will they be content with a couple of extra boxes sitting idle off-site until the time they are needed. Companies today are looking for pro-active ways to address business continuity to ensure that outages of any type are kept to an absolute minimum. So they look for a partner that can delivery both the technical solution and the less tangible benefits of great service. These benefits include flexibility, high quality customer service, accountability and a demonstrated return on investment.
o what does it take to meet the needs of today’s business continuity customer? What specific qualities should companies look for when choosing a business continuity solution provider?
Meeting the Requirements of the Business Continuity Customer
In order to meet the evolving business continuity needs of today’s customer, IT solution providers need to take a holistic view of the solution.
The first step is to look at how the customer does business to make sure that any solution provides an effective and cost-effective approach to business continuity and recovery. For example, a customer may identify the entire business as critical and state that recovery of all IT functions within four hours is absolutely essential. Through a consultancy approach, an IT solution provider can analyze the actual business requirements and recommend which data must be backed up every four hours and which data may require only a 48-hour cycle. Through this process the solution is prioritized based upon risks that are (and are not) acceptable to the customer.
The next step is to develop a flexible recovery and production environment. This will allow the customer to avoid many future disasters, while also minimizing the risk should one occur. To do that, the IT solution provider needs to address a checklist of concerns, few of which were considered in past solutions. They include identifying the number and types of resources that may be required in the event of a disaster – including operations, technical and communications, developing an ongoing rehearsal schedule. They also involve determining remote access points and implementing the right technical solution for the customer, be it a shared or dedicated system. Finally, the ideal vendor needs to be willing to “right size” the solution, selling no more and no less than a customer needs at a given time.
Finally, today’s business continuity provider needs to be a partner. This means that the relationship doesn’t end when the technology is in place. Rather, that is merely the starting point. To ensure the most effective business continuity/recovery strategy and plan, the vendor must be constantly looking for more ways to derive value from the business continuity investment. Oftentimes, this means, proactively exploring new ways to bolster the solution with the goal of avoiding a disaster rather than being prepared for a recovery.
The evolved interest in a more integrated, professional and flexible business continuity solution means good news for customers and for vendors savvy enough to provide the flexibility needed. Those vendors not adept at focusing on the customer will likely face a less than bright future in a business continuity solutions market that seems to offer excellent opportunities for significant growth.
John Zannos is the manager of business development for Hewlett-Packard’s Business Continuity Services. For more information visit www.hp.com/go/recovery or call (800) 863-5360.