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.
Cloud computing represents a new paradigm for understanding the technological services. The versatility of the infrastructure and model-based platforms enable cloud infrastructure managers to expand its catalog of current services and add new. An example of new services developed from the Cloud Computing IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) model would be the RAAS service (Recovery as a Sevice or Disaster Recovery Services). This service offers a replication and disaster recovery based cloud that keeps a copy of their systems and information in a second location as a contingency platform disaster or unavailability of the platform housed in the original location.
Backup system and application services are having a good acceptance since they are a flexible solution that adapts to the needs of each client and to guarantee Times Reduction Objectives (RTO) and recovery (RPO) by automating tasks and Replication recovery. Recovery Point Objective (RPO) can be aligned to the business needs of the client, which allows adapting the service to the objectives defined in the Corporate Business Continuity Plan of each company. Among the main benefits of a service, Disaster Recovery emphasizes the ability to protect business-critical systems, including the recovery of operating systems (Windows and Linux) and application recovery, thereby reducing the risk and costs associated with the unavailability of information.
Being hosted in these safe accommodation geographically separated from the original, you get increased security (floods, terrorism, …), although it should be noted that the contingency accommodation must meet the same legal requirements. Another key benefit of disaster recovery is based on cloud hosting scalability when defining the scope in terms of the services to be protected. This allows to adapt to any conditions included in the corporate contingency plan. The client can start protecting those most critical servers exclusively for your business to go further or even migrating additional services to complement existing backup system in other sites.
RAAS in some ways represents an evolution of traditional replication technologies (DRS), but be a service developed in Cloud Computing IaaS mode allows significant cost savings, as it eliminates the need to purchase hardware, book space, allocate human resources to the preparation and execution of tests, etc.. Paying only for the services used. Operation of a Disaster Recovery service Although the operation of the Disaster Recovery services may vary depending on the provider, you can generally extend the protection from physical or virtual machines to different virtual platform.
Bear in mind that while it is possible to replicate physical servers, few providers support it, and if it makes the physical servers support at source on servers in the datacenter contingency. virtualization (and the fact that replication is done from the hypervisor) offers advantages that can be applied to business continuity and disaster recovery, including: statewide encapsulation of a virtual machine (memory, disk images, E / S, and the status of the device). Encapsulation allows the state of a virtual machine that is stored in a file. Save the state of a virtual machine to a file that allows the transfer of an entire virtual machine to another host. Hardware independence eliminates the need for a complete replica of hardware in the recovery site.
This eliminates the cost of purchasing and maintaining a system that is inactive until a disaster occurs. Hardware independence allows an image of the protected site system to boot from the disc on the recovery site in minutes instead of days. This phase will determine the replication mechanisms suitable for each application (hypervisor, data backup, mechanisms of the application), consistency that is minimum necessary for all applications to launch its services in the contingency site (crash, file, application), and the RTO can be expected throughout the plan from the applications and data volume comprising the protected platform. During the second phase, it will proceed to the installation and commissioning of the platform contingency.
This phase will take place when the replication settings hypervisor level and cabin, and creating scripts and reconfigurations required (network, nomenclature, DNS) for the proper functioning of the recovery plan. Then proceed to the execution of the first tests of the RTO recovery and establishment of reference and the creation of a Disaster Recovery Plan. It is a consensus document on establishing the protocol for the formal declaration of a disaster and the activation procedure contingency site.
In the third and final phase, it will be the management of the service. In this phase periodic testing to ensure the proper functioning of the service is done. One advantage of using virtualization in the contingency site is ease to perform recovery drills without affecting the protected site. This feature reduces the risk of failure recovery when this is necessary. During the test simulates the full recovery of services and any discrepancy is detected between the recovery plan and the changes that have been made at the protected site. This recovery plan is updated. Periodic tests help to detect changes in the RTO and take corrective action.
According to Gartner (research institute), companies should take measures to reduce project risks in the cloud.
To be aware of the challenge for companies to find the best options for outsourcing, the Gartner research institute recommends caution when considering contract terms in order to reduce the risks in cloud services projects.
Many cloud computing service providers appear reluctant to negotiate contracts with the premise that their basic model is a highly advanced, standardized approach. Starting point contractually often favors the vendor, says Gartner analyst.
Gartner list, in particular a couple of terms that should be the focus of attention.
Negotiators should be aware of SLAs required and ensure they are well documented. If the agreed performance levels are not achieved, penalties should be applied. Penalties for SLAs are used to influence the behavior of service providers, they need to be accompanied by financial penalties, accounting and mechanical solution levels provided in the contract. Attention exclusions penalties for SLAs providers realize that they need to add guarantees and quality measures for services sold in the cloud. In order to manage risk, providers usually put rigid exclusion criteria penalties in contracts. Companies should look closely for these limitations to the right to impose fines.
As a part of the strategy of outsourcing in the cloud, executives responsible for the acquisition and protection of the environment should ensure that levels of the security provider are on par with or go beyond known practices, especially in relation to legal or compliance requirements of the stock exchanges.
Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Business Contracts of cloud rarely have clauses about disaster recovery. Some providers of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) assume no responsibility for backing up customer data. This needs to be addressed in the contract.
Conditions in Data Privacy
If the provider meets the privacy regulations of personal information on behalf of the organization, the client needs to be explicit about the specific requirements and analyze the gaps. Contracts should contain all the customer requirements (including as documentation for audit purposes.)
Suspension of Service
Some contracts provide that if the late payment exceeds 30 days, the service may be suspended. This enables the provider considerable negotiation power in the event of a dispute about payment. Organizations should negotiate an agreement in which payment in any case, should not lead to a suspension of service.
Many of cloud contracts allow the provider to terminate the agreement with 30 days written notice, or at least in within 30 days of renewal. Users should negotiate in advance for the notice of suspension of service.
Most contracts restricts liability to the maximum value of the bills in the last 12 months. Therefore, companies must negotiate greater protection.
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:
Storing files in the cloud is already a common practice among web users. Google, for example, allows you to save documents, pictures and other data from anywhere with an internet connection. So, start editing a Word document at home and bring it to work has become more simple: just send to a server and access it without having to walk in the company with pen drives from one side to the other.
In January, when the Megaupload was closed by U.S. authorities, many users felt hurt. Not because of the fact that copyrighted files were taken from the network, but because the service was also used to store information of legal users, much like the Google. Of a sudden, millions of documents and photos were lost when access to Megaupload was interrupted, and thus a cloud storage option was lost.
This event raised a question: how safe are the files that are stored in the cloud? Is there any guarantee that they will not be lost or if the cloud service is taken offline, as users can do to recover the holding?
For more sites and servers that can be closed, the cloud is hardly impaired. The cloud computing, as the internet, there is a system dependent on a single connection. The scenario that every cloud will disappear is practically impossible.
A single server can fail, but, according to the experts, the great cloud computing companies have plans for possible disasters. Large corporations have backup plans and disaster recovery plans in case of floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Thus, if more than one server is damaged, the files are stored on some other server as well, thus preventing users from losing their data.
Another concern is regarding the safety of the cloud. Not everyone feels confident when leaving important files with personal information stored in a place that they do not know exactly where it is, despite knowing how to access them easily. The biggest risk is not confidential data, but the possibility of losing data. If you rely on a single provider, you need evidence that they are keeping your data offline.
My recommendation is to make a second copy of your files elsewhere. It’s a good idea to save the data on your own computer, for example, to avoid losing important data.
And cloud computing as described in a word, “the other side of the cloud world (at the side of the Internet) using the huge processing facility provided. Generic term for technologies that is, Cloud computing is classified into three types.
SaaS : A service that provides software services
PaaS : A service that provides a platform
IaaS : To provide infrastructure services
Cloud Computing and BCP (Business Continuity Planning)
Cloud computing is one of the solutions to support the implementation of the organization’s business continuity.
All you need to achieve your organization’s business continuity, “responsiveness” and “resiliency”. “Responsiveness” refers to the ability to minimize the impact on business itself when damaged. For example, a large earthquake going on, etc. Perhaps it reduces the damage to the system. In addition, “resiliency” refers to the ability of the business to quickly recover even if it is affected by the disaster.
“Responsiveness” in order to avoid the disaster after earthquake, for example, base isolation system (is suppressed without affecting the equipment to absorb the shaking of an earthquake) will include measures such as using some non-combustible building materials in the server room.
In addition, “resiliency” as an example for a fast recovery solution using data replication technology. Should also have disrupted the original data, in that they allow activities that will be made available to recover data quickly.
Thus, the key to achieve the organization’s business continuity, “responsiveness” and “resiliency” is right in the improvement of cloud computing, this “responsiveness” and “resiliency” contribute significantly to have the power.
The second, Cloud computing, DR services are combined to provide a backup system (Depending on the IT service provider).
BCP is the answer to cloud computing?
Cloud computing is not a valid BCP, it is one of the options for establishing a highly effective disaster recovery service.
However, cloud computing is also a universal need that you do not know. The biggest concern is the black box of IT Services.
Organization, therefore, after considering the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing carefully, we think the key is to consider the best measures.
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.
Often the question arises as to what stage of maturity must be in the company and its IT infrastructure in order to use cloud services. The answer is simple. After all, the main goal of transition to cloud – is to increase speed access to the service with minimal management effort. With cloud, small companies can minimize the cost of purchasing the equipment, licenses, salaries of IT staff, and large and middle – make it possible to improve the reliability of the information assets and quality of interaction with customers and partners.
Stairway To Heaven
The transition to cloud services for the well-established IT infrastructure, at first glance, may involve significant financial costs and risks. However, the path to the cloud can be phased. And then there will be an opportunity to assess the effect of each stage and develop a future strategy.
If the company has a geographically distributed structure to information assets given on different territorial areas, the first step on the path to the cloud will be consolidation, minimizing the points of concentration of information resources. A good option might be to create a single data center based on the parent company or central office (ideally should think about creating a backup data center for disaster recovery). Consolidation of resources within a single center will improve the reliability of information systems, cloud providers will provide a higher level of safety and reduce maintenance costs components of the IT infrastructure at branch offices.
The next step might be to move to energy efficient technologies. Virtualization (not just dedicated server, but also jobs, applications, and disk space), in addition to direct cost savings on hardware, software and maintenance costs, allow to abstract business applications and data from the physical execution environment. At the same time it will set the stage for easy transfer of information assets (both within the IT infrastructure of enterprise and beyond) and their transfer under external management.
A physical model representation of IT enables businesses to move to a service-oriented management, that is to have the board not the individual components of IT infrastructure and business services. In this model, be crucial to standardize the quality requirements of service (SLA), on which there is a choice on provider of IT services. They can be both internal IT service and external service providers. In the presence of SLA, it can be easily transferred or shared services between providers, which allows us to create a cloud services.
Considering the way to the clouds is not the only possible variations. In any case – if passed this way until the end or the company decides to stop at any step – at every stage they can learn for themselves both about economic and qualitative benefits.
Large or small, every successful company must ensure that your data and information are protected in the best possible way. If already decided to outsource the data center, check that the company has hired a disaster recovery plan on a higher priority. Thus, even if there is any incident, the recovery of all the intellectual and strategic customers will be assured. Otherwise, everyone’s life becomes a nightmare.
There are few businessmen who feel that there is no need to hire a service of DRP, or a disaster recovery plan. Mainly because it takes time and investment. Only if the loss of information happens, it is invaluable. At worst, the company may go bankrupt.
In recent years we have seen many reactions to the nature of global warming, resulting in floods, fires, earthquakes, etc. invasion of urban pests. Poorly managed cities, then, without enough points for the flow of water, are the first to have their homes and businesses flooded. Not to mention the security problems with assaults that are multiplying. Sometimes the criminals are behind cables and wires and end up destroying an entire heritage.
In short, the business continuity plan analyzes each company area and points, including the most vulnerable areas. It is important to indicate where you can count on a secure storage to install, if any, the system of information security, facilitating the back-up journal.
In addition to these incidents, disasters in technology also relate to data loss due to domestic spying, viruses, blackouts, and – very importantly – human error. Imagine running out of a machine for more than ten days. Financial losses may never be fully restored. Contracts can be broken, unfulfilled agreements, deliveries not made, there may be delays in payments to suppliers and employees … All because they did not have a business continuity plan that provides for disaster recovery.
These are some nightmares that can be avoided when the company prioritizes the security of information and knowledge generated by their human capital. So the next board meeting, the smart entrepreneur should not forget to discuss proposals to outsource data center comprising a good business continuity plan.