With scenes of earthquakes, floods and tsunamis in different regions of the world, still fresh in our memory, companies are more aware than ever that are planning and doing preparation, especially with regard to critical business systems, such as contact centers, are fundamental.
Legislative initiatives, now require that companies analyze how they can support their contact center in a disaster situation. There are several factors that companies should consider when planning a full program of disaster recovery. We must consider all possibilities, but especially, to recognize that the term disaster encompasses a number of unpleasant situations and the contact center may face specific problems such as the building being damaged or downtime, power failure, equipment destroyed or disabled, network and data corrupted, lost or disabled, security systems affected, among others.
Disaster recovery can have different meanings for people, but regardless of whether the setting is focused on high availability, recovery, and system redundancy, it is important to be sensitive to the technology that the company has as to the processes around this technology. Before the organization can develop a disaster recovery plan efficiently, we need to answer questions about contact center technology, such as: The system is redundant for yourself? Does the inner workings have redundancy? You can run two systems, one primary and the other as backup in different locations? Each system can be configured to support all transactions if one of the systems fails? Is it possible to start the system remotely without manual intervention?
Preparation of People and Processes in the Disaster Recovery Plan
It is not enough to have backup technology. The company must also have procedures for each type of disaster in every possible location. For example, does the contact center employees know what to do if business continuity is interrupted? Do they know where to continue the work, or if they have access to hosted applications that allow them to remotely access contact center applications from damaged facilities? There will be agents in other geographic areas they can access the system and services of the affected areas? New applications are required for self-service to free agent capabilities to critical questions necessary? The solutions in the locality allow customer service uniformly, if agents have no familiarity to take positions, and the agents were informed about this possibility? Is there someone who takes responsibility for ensuring that the voice options self-service update automatically? CRM solutions premises will enable uniform access to customer information, and the agents were trained to use the applications?
Also, if the company is outsourcing any part of contact center initiatives, one should make sure that the vendor has their own recovery plans in place.
Finally, the best disaster recovery plan is useless if it is not updated continuously and if not regularly tested. Often, the call centers invest much time, money and other resources for the development of a plan, but make the mistake of ignoring the maintenance required to keep the plan work effectively and efficiently. The financial impact of relying on an untested or outdated plan can be devastating.
The natural and technological disasters can be disastrous for business too, but not necessarily. Companies that proactively select and implement appropriate technologies and disaster recovery processes can minimize interruptions in customer service and keep receipts arising despite unexpected events.
It is highly important for all businesses to have Disaster Recovery (DR) plans in place for situations where downtime or data loss could represent a substantial issue that could impact on a business’s ability to carry on with its operations effectively. Here at ESDS we have developed our own in-house cross-platform Disaster Recovery solution that will provide our clients with the best protection available against data loss when disaster strikes; furthermore, we believe that it is important to deliver such solutions at a price that suiting for our clients as the use of the eNlight cloud in our DR plans means that savings of up to 90% can be achieved when choosing ESDS for this purpose.
Choice of Hardware
Our DR solutions enable customers to choose their own hardware configurations at their end because the use of the x86-based eNlight cloud for DR/backup purposes means that there is no designated design for the proprietary hardware on the client’s side. A number of our corporate clients already had their IT infrastructures based around HP UNIX or IBM AIX systems for which there weren’t a great deal of solutions available that could fulfill their DR requirements, but have been able to fully integrate their systems with our Intel-based cloud architecture.
Scalability is important in a Disaster Recovery environment because the need for resources could grow very quickly, especially if disaster strikes, meaning that redundancy needs to be built in from the start so this extra demand can be met when required. eNlight is a cloud infrastructure that can be expanded as demand dictates and for DR this provides the ultimate solution because extra storage capacity will always be on tap; this is where the cost savings are achieved because you will only ever be paying for the resources that you are confident you will need.
Value for Money
The eNlight cloud has been designed so that businesses only pay for the resources that they are consuming, as opposed to purchasing pre-defined plans that have set resource allocations. Within the context of DR this can be incredibly beneficial to the end user because it means that they will only ever end up paying for these resources when disaster strikes.
The ESDS DR system is designed to provide constant synchronization with the eNlight cloud so that the data that has been backed up is always a copy, which can be relied on in the event of data loss occurring at the primary site. eNlight has been designed to offer real-time seamless integration with primary platforms so that zero downtime can be achieved when performing activities including system upgrades and data migration between different platforms at the primary site.
Importance of Having Disaster Recovery Plans
DR plans should form part of the responsibilities of any Business Continuity department because with so many businesses relying on their websites or the internet in general to provide them with a source of income, the loss of customer data or other events that could impact on their online presence could affect these income flows greatly. Having a DR plan in place will allow a business to recover from any disasters in a relatively short period of time because there will be provisions in place to restore data that has been lost as well as to reinstate hardware resources that have been impacted.
When putting together a Disaster Recovery plan, there are several crucial factors that will need to be considered so that the final DR is as effective as possible; these include:
The adoption of cloud computing and virtualization is growing rapidly. But implementation of these new technologies raises concerns regarding the reliability of your data and applications accessed by the cloud. In addition, companies are also taking into consideration the high availability of information and recover from disasters, such as data loss in floods, fires and blackouts. According to the survey, 84% of companies reassessed recovery plans have virtualized their dedicated servers. This may seem a laborious task, especially with budgets shrinking year after year. But as one hour of Web server downtime can cost more than $ 62,000 for a large company, it is easy to understand how the availability – ensuring access at any time – is a critical factor.
Not only for the revenue and employee productivity, but also for the company whose assets are less obvious metrics, such as the brand’s reputation. The update system caused, on average, 51 hours of downtime over the past 12 months, according to IT professionals who responded to the survey. When something routine and regular updates can cause so great a period of inactivity, it is vital to implement recovery capabilities to minimize the risks. These solutions must be able to recover easily applications, moving them to a server operating with minimum downtime. To maintain business and keep the critical data safe, here is the processes that should be followed:
Data backup is integral to a successful plan for disaster recovery. According to research on the Disaster Recovery, 56% of the virtualized data are currently covered by backup, with only 20% of the data being protected by replication.
Protection Of Mission-Critical Applications
Another fundamental aspect of a successful plan for disaster recovery is the protection of mission-critical applications in a virtualized environment. Even if half of organizations have begun to use the cloud for mission-critical applications, there is often hesitation because of security risks and the perceived lack of control. The biggest challenge cited by IT professionals to protect critical applications in a virtual environment is the lack of monitoring tools comparable to those used to monitor physical environments, closely followed by lack of expandability.
Monitoring Of Networks and Automated Recovery
Currently, 26% of the budget of the departments are assigned to disaster recovery initiatives. However, 43% of firms reported that the budget for disaster recovery will decrease within the next 12 months. With IT departments eternally burdened, automated processes are the ideal solution to reduce the recovery time with minimal human resources.
One of the most important things that IT can do to assess their level of preparedness is to conduct regular testing of disaster recovery. 51% of global companies thoroughly test the disaster recovery plan every six months, and 31% do so more frequently, according to research. The tests can point improvement. The adoption of virtualization technologies and cloud computing can offer greater flexibility to IT services and reduce operating expenses. But to reap these benefits, companies need to address the challenges of technology, reviewing plans for disaster recovery. An effective plan must include backup and protection of confidential data, proactive monitoring of networks and automated recovery, and testing to minimize the problems of availability and ensure maximum activity.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
In the last three years, we have seen several clients doing analysis of DR services long before their contracts expire. It is increasingly common because vendors want to know (up to six months in advance) if the service contract will be maintained or end. If a company chooses the second option, it is important to ensure that the transition from old to new provider should be performed promptly.
Due to the inherent complexity of web applications and the continuing effects of changing data centers, the need for a longer period of testing is also included in the essential criteria for an analysis of alternatives, especially for the evaluation of alternative demand and exclusive service.
In the last five years, a lot of people have started sourcing DR and emerging data center technologies like server virtualization and private cloud computing. These and other alternatives help to reduce the barriers of investment and operation for the use of disk-to-disk-replication, and have easy choices for specific services.
More important is that, many companies believe, a longer period of testing is necessary for IT to provide the best guarantee of recovery for complex services and applications online. This is because complex online applications require a higher level of dependence on software testing and data, mainly due to the accelerated pace of change in their datacenter. However, it is advisable to schedule a test period months in advance.
As these requirements keeps on changing, an increasing number of companies are starting evaluations of alternative DR before their current service contracts of DR expire. If a company decides to discontinue service, it is crucial to ensure that the process of transition from an old to a new provider is defined and coherent.
However, simply evaluating alternative internal services, hosted or cloud-based does not imply a reduction in the cost of management. It is also important to ensure that the correct criteria is guiding the evaluation.
Choosing a disaster recovery services provider after doing proper research is clearly a more appropriate choice.
However, it is more likely that you may need more than one provider for effective management of recovery. For example, an external provider host may be the logical choice for the case of continuous availability of data center, a direct supplier of equipment is the most appropriate alternative for IT infrastructure equipment, the simultaneous use of multiple telecommunications providers is the best option for failover of network services, as well as test management, as it has professionals with practical knowledge of business applications and the priority of data recovery, and better understand what levels of recovery test will be effective and consistent.
At the same time, we found that the mix of internal computing platforms can often play a key role in determining the most viable approach. In conversations with customers, we found that the more diverse the mix of platforms, the easier it will define which vendor best suited to the case. This is because the task of providing hardware systems for medium and large companies, as well as managing a data center for recovery is not feasible for many companies, which makes the traditional approach of separate services for disaster recovery much more practical.
Moreover, the growing use of server virtualization may also mean that a smaller number of physical servers can expressly be needed in the recovery of a site to keep the workload of a specific application balanced. Regardless of how diversified is the corporate computing environment, certain issues should always guide sourcing decisions.
Ideally, the choice of sourcing should be based on a combination of sensible economic criteria of effectiveness and efficiency, as well as technology and vendor-specific advantages and disadvantages of management operation.