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Solving the Problem of Downtime

Solving the Problem of Downtime

Recently, my brother got a job as a “solution engineer” at a software company. I gave him a hard time because of the current ubiquity of the word “solution.” It’s one of those words that has rapidly lost much of its value as everyone has upgraded their “products” to “solutions.” I even saw a truck the other day advertising “plumbing solutions.”

Now, I’m not going to argue about semantics. The broadest sense of the word “solution,” the one where you have a problem, and somebody comes to fix it, is fair game, in my opinion. My dad was a plumber for a while and they definitely have a problem to fix.

But I do want to look at this idea of a “solution.” To me, it suggests something more holistic. It’s not a stop-gap. It’s not a finger in the dike. It solves the problem. It’s the end of the problem.

What Does a Disaster Recovery Solution Look Like?

So what does that mean about disaster recovery “solutions”? What does a disaster recovery solution look like? Of course, in order to answer that question, we need to talk a about the disaster recovery problem.

The problem, of course, is downtime. More and more, our tolerance for downtime is fading. We need access to our systems, our data, our entire IT environment all of the time. Any disruption can cost us money, damage our reputations, or worse.

Any disaster recovery solution, then, would have to “solve” the problem of downtime. That’s a tall order. There are so many things that can cause downtime, so many disasters that disrupt normal business, that finding a way to prevent them all is practically impossible.

So what does a disaster recovery solution look like? For one thing, it has to be flexible. There are so many pieces that need to be protected, so many kinds of disasters, so many issues in between, that a true disaster recovery solution needs to be ready to address them all.

And a disaster recovery solution needs to be ready to deal with everything on both sides of the disaster.

First, it needs to provide absolutely reliable backups that encompass every piece of an IT environment, not just data.

Those backups also need to be completely accessible. A true disaster recovery solution acknowledges the fact that different disasters will have different needs and will require different levels of accessibility. Keeping backups onsite, for example, is by far the best way to address local, IT disasters, but when something bigger hits, something that wipes your building out, offsite storage is essential. A disaster recovery solution must allow for both in a quick, easy, seamless way.

Disasters are Mean and Messy

Then of course there’s the recovery. No disaster is convenient. They don’t come with instructions. They’re mean and messy and so a disaster recovery solution needs to be ready for anything. Once you have solid backups that you can access anywhere, anytime, you need to be able to use those backups tactically. Sometimes that means virtualizing backup images so you can continue running your business while you’re repairing hardware. Sometimes it just means being able to dig through your data on a granular level to recover an individual file. Whatever it is, the recovery needs to work every time, regardless of the external situation.

Is it possible to completely solve the disaster problem? Probably not, but when you’re comparing disaster recover products that claim to be “solutions,” you should take a good look at what they’re really providing. If you spend a lot of time worrying about the disaster recovery product you’re using, or if you have do a lot of jerry rigging to make it work when and how you need it, it’s not a solution.

Matt Rayback is a Marketing Writer at StorageCraft, which works closely with MSPs. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of StorageCraft’s guest blogs here.
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