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Recent blog posts

Everyone knows that cloud computing allows users to access information instantaneously and lifts the burden of continuous server maintenance, but there is another benefit that many have not thought about: the “living approach” to product development. 

Through the living approach, cloud hosting providers develop system enhancements and upgrades based on communicated customer needs and are released to users as soon as they become available. This allows clients to receive new features faster than they would with a normal product development environment, and these features are more closely linked to their personal needs. 

Inherently, the living environment fosters communication among users and potential customers, creating close relationships both amongst themselves and with the provider. Through online forums built directly into their software, users can request new necessary improvements that may not have been noticed by others. Once these improvements have been developed, cloud providers release them as soon as they possibly can, making their customers happy and talking about their company. 

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At the end of the day, the real value of a data protection system lies in its ability to restore data when and where needed. If data fails to restore successfully, some part of the business is going to suffer, possibly with costly consequences. As a result, reliability is a key measure of a solution’s ROI.

 You could have the best, most expensive, fastest data protection solution in the world, but if your data cannot be retrieved and used in a timely fashion, the point is moot.

When choosing a solution for data protection, look for experience in the data protection market—years spent protecting the business critical data of some of the largest organizations in the world. This is not a professional sports draft and you are not looking for the diamond in the rough that can be molded into the perfect player (solution).

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By Jacque Rupert, Avalution Consulting
Originally posted on Avalution Consulting’s Blog

We see a lot of confusion specific to the topic of force majeure. Often, executive management has the belief that force majeure clauses in their contracts protect them from a wide variety of disruptive events, and thus they may not invest appropriately in business continuity plans and strategies. However, the concept of force majeure is somewhat convoluted and often includes many variables. As a result, if an organization does not plan appropriately, it may actually be left unprotected and vulnerable to claims of breach of contract in the event of a disruption.

This article explores the history of force majeure and its current state application in contract law. Avalution developed this perspective to help inform organizations about the potential issues associated with force majeure clauses and the need for additional preparedness activities to adequately protect the organization in the event of a disruptive incident. However, please keep in mind that we are not lawyers, and nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice (be sure to consult with legal counsel regarding this topic and appropriately balance contractual protections with business continuity planning strategies).

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Are you tired of calling your data protection vendor and having them tell you that your issue is a hardware problem only to have the hardware vendor point the finger back to the solution provider? Finger pointing is a huge waste of time and can actually cause major disruptions in service.

When choosing a data protection solution, look for one that offers peace of mind through world-class customer support as well as subscription and support (maintenance) contracts, which provide enormous financial value to customers.

For example, all improvements made to a solution in the past three years as well as the planned improvements for the next three years should be taken into consideration, such as source and target data deduplication, the eight-fold increase in scalability and substantial improvements in reliability, performance and ease of use.

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As you know the more resources and information you have easily accessible, the easier it is to make smart, educated and informed decisions. Articles, research studies and case studies do go a long way in providing this information but sometimes you just need to see the plain and simple details.

This is where the DRJ Business Continuity Glossary comes in very handy. Our comprehensive and recently updated glossary gives you all of the tools and knowledge you need to better research, analyze and understand the business continuity space.

For those of you who are new to business continuity, this glossary is a great way to learn about key terms such as:

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There was once a time when we could leave our doors unlocked without fear of losing our prized possessions, and there was once a time when we could type credit card numbers into our browser without fear of identity theft. Sadly, this is no longer the case; we must take extensive security measures every day, even when using the cloud. 

When analyzing the security of your data, it is important to remember that your information is only as safe as your weakest password. So, if your password for your favorite social networking site is “password123,” it is safe to assume that your other personal information can be easily compromised. Make your passwords impossible to guess, mix them up with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters and change them on a regular basis. 

Authentication is a great way to deter would-be hackers. Add a few security questions for each person with access to your cloud hosting programs so that you can ensure that these select few are the only ones that will get into the application. 

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When keeping pace with growing data, a major concern for IT organizations, in terms of both storage and data protection is how the data protection solution will handle the growth.

If your business has grown its capacity by 40-60 percent in each of the past three years, and it now supports billions of data objects, you need a solution that grows with you. This growing of capacity may be outpacing your data protection solution and you may need to find a way to scale your protection.

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IT organizations can drive up the cost of storage unnecessarily by treating all data the same and storing it all on the same media. Let’s face the fact: my resume is not as important as the payroll database or even the email database. So, why are you using the same storage policy for both?

Stop using one policy to rule all of your data. It might be simple, but it is killing your bottom line. When looking for a data protection solution, find one that allows you to use policies to treat data differently.

Important data should be prioritized as tier one data that gets backed up most often and most quickly. Perhaps that data can stay on disk for fast restore.

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When looking for someone to hire to add an extra bedroom to your home, you have to perform thorough research to find the perfect individual that will suit your personal needs. So, why wouldn't you do the same when it comes to searching for a web host? Before jumping into a contract with a company, you will need to do your homework. 

The ideal cloud hosting provider should be able to deliver a solution that is easily scalable with minimum effort at the most optimum price, resulting in lower costs and thus improved productivity. Still, selecting the perfect hosting provider can be difficult due to the vast amount of competitors on the market. How do you find your right match? 

One of your first concerns when researching hosting providers should be that of security. Without proper security measures, your website and applications can be at risk of infiltration from hackers with malicious intent. An appropriately secure cloud infrastructure will prevent these situations from ever happening. 

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Tagged in: Cloud Hosting

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When keeping pace with growing data, a major concern for IT organizations, in terms of both storage and data protection is how the data protection solution will handle the growth.

If your business has grown its capacity by 40-60 percent in each of the past three years, and it now supports billions of data objects, you need a solution that grows with you. This growing of capacity may be outpacing your data protection solution and you may need to find a way to scale your protection.

This growth can be handled, but the scaling must be done in a logical manner. There are three ways to do this:

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Do you have different products to protect different types of data or different systems? If so, you need to start thinking about standardizing on a single product.  Think of all the time, training and resources you would save.

Unified recovery management (URM) brings under one user interface the ability to manage data protection throughout the business, supporting different applications and types of data on different operating systems in different locations and with different policies and backup requirements. From a single point, administrators can manage multiple data protection and recovery tools, including diverse solutions that are dedicated to different tasks. It helps eliminate the costs and complexities associated with deploying and managing multiple point solutions.

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Can two of the same things have two different prices? Heck yes! Not only can they have different prices, but they can also be dramatically different. 

In the last few years, data protection solution providers have started to offer something besides “core-” or “server-” based. When buying software you need to consider all the options. One of the new options is capacity. 

When purchasing data protection solutions, look for a company that offers pricing options that allow you to pay for solutions in the manner that makes the most financial sense for you. In the past, licensing models were based on the number and power of processor cores in the servers being protected. They also had cost advantages for organizations with a relatively large amount of data and  small number of servers or for organizations with other software products licensed this way.

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By Rob Giffin, Avalution Consulting
Originally posted on Avalution Consulting’s Blog

Have you ever recommended additional redundancy for a process, department, or facility, only to be told that your organization couldn't afford it or have the project repeatedly delayed until next year? I have. It’s pretty common in our profession. 

Casey Haskins and Peter Sims recently wrote an article that you should consider a must read (and so should your senior leadership team responsible for continuity). It may just provide the viewpoint needed to help your organization be more resilient.

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Andy Osborne's blog from last week was truly timely: I've just been assigned a new task by my boss: Take a recovery management plan done for one company site, and sinter it down into a suitable "template" for other "small" company sites.  The task has already shown indications of Andy's experience: the work done by predecessors causing more work.  It's not that wrong things were written, but the document doesn't "flow" like a plan should.  I beieve a "plan" is like a recipe, only longer and without the rewarding aroma to savor at the end.  ;-)

Of the many kinds of plans I've seen over my years in this profession, few really read like a recipe, rather more like a cross between a dictionary with a mixture of random essays.  No flow.  But this time, I feel much better about the prospects, because the plan I'm to use as the starting point has, on one of the early pages after the Table of Contents, a FLOW CHART!!!  It has been my contention since my earliest months in this business, that recovery is a process, meaning it must flow - start at Square One and start marching until you're done.

Perhaps, if you've found yourslef feeling like your plan lacks something, maybe it needs some improvement in its flow.  Developing recovery plans can't (easily) effect a timely recovery without flow, because no matter how many people you throw at the disruption, the lack of flow will have them bumping into one another.

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The emergence of the data center began in the 1990s, when companies began installing servers on their premises, replacing clunky and outdated mainframes. As technology improved, these spaces moved to off-site facilities with more dedicated resources. Today’s data centers are impressively sized, with countless premium features. In fact, the world’s largest data center—located in Las Vegas, Nevada—covers over nine acres of data real estate!

A traditional data center is an industrial building in which space is provided for server infrastructure, along with power resources, cooling systems, cabling, natural disaster suppression technology, and the most up to date security measures. To maintain cost efficiency, data centers are normally built where overhead costs such as electricity and real estate are low, but still have the ability to maintain an adequate staff. It is important to note that traditional data centers can be expensive to build in terms of monetary value and time; this cost is likely handed down to the customers down the road.

Prefabricated data centers (also referred to as modular data centers)—ones that are able to fit within standard shipping containers—are becoming the new norm. These modular centers give companies the ability to customize server architecture on demand as necessary. A modular data center can be placed anywhere data capacity is needed.

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Tagged in: data center

It is not all about data deduplication! Many data protection products and providers talk about data deduplication as if it will save the world. In fact, data deduplication is only a small part of the solution. What we need to be talking about is across the board data reduction.

Data reduction technologies are the first line of defense against rapidly expanding data volumes and costs. STORServer provides built-in data reduction technologies, such as progressive-incremental backup, data deduplication and data compression, enabling organizations to reduce backup storage capacity by as much as 95 percent.  STORServer also provides advanced tape management and efficient tape utilization capabilities, which can further reduce data storage capacity requirements.

While competing solutions create massive amounts of duplicate data through repetitive full backups, necessitating expensive data deduplication solutions, Tivoli Storage Manager provides progressive-incremental backup technology that avoids the duplicate data in the first place by creating only an initial full backup and then capturing only new and changed data. Built-in data compression and data deduplication operate at multiple storage layers to minimize the amount of data being retained for operational and disaster recovery.

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You may have been researching the process of incorporating a cloud hosting solution into your business practice, or you may just be curious about this relatively new phenomenon. Either way, you will soon see that there is nothing but love for the cloud.

Traditionally, running a server required paying monthly subscription fees for chunky, lagging systems that you could either maintain on your own premises or pay even more for it to be occasionally maintained by a data center staff member. No more! The new technology of the cloud allows customers to pay for what they need, and only what they need.

To create cloud server, cloud service providers cluster together resources and create a singular server that can be divided amongst various clients. Because the space is shared instead of allocated to one single client, customers can change their bandwidth and power needs as necessary. Also, uptime is practically 100% guaranteed due to the fact that if there is any sort of hardware failure on one portion, the others will absorb and cushion the damage.

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Before considering cloud-based data protection, it is important to first understand the basics of cloud, which can sometimes be foggy (at best). With trade magazines and publications defining the "cloud" in a number of different ways, IT managers and executives are often confused about the true meaning of the term; however the recent maturation of cloud-based services has helped the definition become more focused.

 In a nutshell, there are two main types of cloud-based data protection services: public and private. The public cloud is where data is on a shared infrastructure. In a private cloud, data is on dedicated infrastructure and the owners of that data share no part of it with others. There are variations of the public and private cloud, including combinations of the two that result in a "semi-private cloud," but for the sake of clarity, we will stay away from that topic.

In data protection, there are some popular configurations to consider. The first is disaster recovery to a private cloud, which assumes an existing solution is onsite and has a backup copy and perhaps an archive copy. Usually this involves a system with disks and/or tape that keeps the data protected for a set duration of time. It then assumes that users want to automate disaster recovery to another location. Customers who need this cloud offering typically want to move away from a tape solution or have not yet installed a disaster recovery technology.

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By Andy Osborne, Consultancy Director, Acumen Author of Practical Business Continuity Management

I've just finished doing one of those straightforward "I'll knock that off in a day or two" type 

jobs. It only took me seven days. Over a period of four and a half weeks. The last stint used up pretty much the whole of my weekend. As a result, I now have the backache from hell, serious hockey withdrawal symptoms and a bad case of boarder's knee. That's floorboarder's, rather than snowboarder's, knee by the way - I don't think they suffer particularly from sore knees, although most of them must suffer terrible frostbite of the derrière from all that sitting in the snow, but that's another story (see "Ski boots and celery").

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You may have heard the terms “public cloud” and “private cloud,” but what does it all mean? What happens when you combine the two to create the mysterious “hybrid cloud?”

Large corporations with the monetary resources available to build, develop and manage a server infrastructure most often use private cloud services. While obviously more expensive, a private cloud gives the builder complete control over the infrastructure and surrounding environment. It is important to note that those in charge of such a solution must be extremely skilled and confident in running a massive environment.

Most small to medium-sized businesses opt for a public cloud environment. This type of cloud offers web‐based applications and other cloud services. The hardware and operating systems are not owned by the client, but instead rented through a third-party vendor (a cloud hosting provider). One disadvantage to this solution is that the data is not stored locally; instead, data is stored and managed by the provider.

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Tagged in: Cloud Hosting