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Virtualisation and the cloud aid disaster recovery in Spain

As virtualisation and cloud services take hold, Spanish organisations can take advantage of less costly and more flexible responses to the threat of unplanned outages

Every business fears a disaster that renders its IT system unusable. Whether it’s a flood, hurricane or earthquake, a man-made disaster such as a cyber attack, or a technological disaster such as equipment failure, business can grind to a halt without warning.

That is when, if properly prepared, the organisation’s disaster recovery plan kicks in and, before long, it is business as usual.

The cost of IT downtime can be $100,000 per hour or more – costs that can put some organisations out of business.

And it’s not just the financial cost. Lack of application availability can be devastating for an organisation’s reputation, even if it is not the fault of the datacentre operator, as is the case when a natural disaster strikes.

In days gone by, proper disaster recovery provision was the preserve of the largest companies only. The cost was prohibitive for many because it involved replicating the hardware and software environment to a secondary site, which was a huge investment for something that might be rarely used.

But server virtualisation changed the game for many by reducing the costs of disaster recovery. Now organisations do not need to replicate hardware and software to a secondary environment. Instead, virtualised platforms with built-in disaster recovery functionality can be tested and run from anywhere, and in a way that enables granular recovery of assets.

Also, cloud-based disaster recovery (DRaaS) is proving attractive for many businesses that otherwise lack a convenient off-site location of their own. As with many cloud-based technologies, there is a cost saving to be found here, too.

According to research company Forrester, 42% of businesses use some sort of outsourced disaster recovery service. Many businesses feel they do not have the in-house expertise to “run their entire disaster recovery programmes”, says Forrester.

That is something disaster recovery provider Barracuda can relate to. The firm’s country manager for Spain, Miguel Lopez, told Computer Weekly that Spanish companies are increasingly looking for a one-stop-shop platform for disaster recovery.

Integrating backup needs

“What we are seeing as a common trend from our customers is the need for a product that integrates all their backup needs,” he says. “Customers are looking for products that have features like local deduplication, fast data recovery, backup for physical and virtual servers, central management and live-boot of virtual machines directly over the backup storage.”

Another current trend is a requirement for “remote, cloud-based storage that remains within Europe”, said Lopez.

That is an interesting point, because laws governing where data can be stored can be problematic for international companies looking to set up disaster recovery operations, not just in Spain but across Europe as a whole.

Practical issues

Apart from the costs, there are practical issues to deal with regarding adherence to rules and regulations that affect individual European countries, and wider laws governing the European Union.

Grupo Lledo, a lighting company based in Móstoles on the outskirts of Madrid, uses Barracuda for its backup system. The company was founded in 1958, and now has offices across Spain, Portugal, France, England and Poland and marketing operations through distributors in Ireland, Italy, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere.

Ivan Pizarro Rosa from Grupo Lledo’s systems and communications department told Computer Weekly the company uses Barracuda Backup 690. It had previously used a tape-based backup system from Symantec, but wanted a product that would enable it to recover from a disaster more quickly.

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“Unfortunately, we know that recovery from a serious system failure can be days or weeks, and comes with the consequent problem of loss of business for the company,” says Rosa. “Our new system enables fast and simple recoveries. Now I can recover in minutes data that had been deleted for months. Previously, that was a long, tedious process.”

Grupo Lledo backs up its SQL, data and web servers through Barracuda and tests are run on the system once or twice a month, says Rosa.

For many customers, it is peace of mind that drives them to seek disaster recovery products, says Manuel Monterrubio Monterrubio, CEO of Grupo Exevi. His company, based in Madrid, acts as a reseller for many enterprise technology suppliers covering security, infrastructure, storage and software development. It also offers DRaaS.

“In Spain there are very few earthquakes or hurricanes and it’s also rare even for electricity to be cut, but customers have to be prepared,” says Monterrubio. “Dependence on computing is high and therefore, with a disaster recovery plan, customers at least guarantee basic alternative communications, a storage system and robust backup. With a clear and specific plan, they can be much more calm.”

Investing in DRaaS

Databases, CRM, ERP and communications systems are generally what customers in Spain back up, says Monterrubio, and customers are increasingly investing in DRaaS because of the cost savings. However, many customers supplement ad-hoc solutions within their own environment to any as-a-service offerings, he adds.

Monterrubio echoed the views of Barracuda’s Lopez and Grupo Llevo’s Rosa by pointing out that speed of recovery is vitally important to disaster recovery customers. Lost minutes, hours or even days can cost a company hundreds of thousands of euros in lost productivity, and that is a financial hit some small companies may not recover from.

Disaster recovery in the Spanish market is really all about a desire for security. Organisations want to know that, if a disaster strikes their business, they can quickly and reliably restore vital information and the systems that keep them running. For some businesses, using a disaster recovery product can be the difference between life and death.

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