Having decided to go the managed DRaaS route, choosing the right service provider is obviously a critical step.
By Sasha Malic, Head: Availability Services, ContinuitySA
In my previous blog, I outlined the reasons why many organisations are opting not just for the DRaaS model, but to procure it as a managed service from a specialist business continuity company.
The deciding factor? The domain expertise and experience a business continuity provider can provide. The provider of managed DRaaS has to play the role of a trusted advisor who will not only ensure that you have a DR plan that is properly scoped and will work, but who will help you survive a disaster.
Here are some of the key questions to ask:
- Where are your data centres located? Ideally, a service provider should have more than one location, and both should be distant from the client site. This will mean that at least one of the recovery sites will not be affected by the same disaster as the client. Location is also important when it comes to questions of data sovereignty: the law may require that certain types of data are not held outside of national boundaries.
- What are your performance metrics? It is essential to establish the nature of the service provider’s infrastructure, its technology-refresh cycle, and its own business continuity plans. Other important metrics would be its own recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) service-level agreements, and how confident they are they can meet them. Ask for validated real-life examples.
Another important performance-related question would concern how responsive the service provider is. How quickly do they respond to questions or issues, and what hours are they available?
- What is your capacity for receiving, storing and transmitting data? Can the provider service all its clients—and is it prepared and able to accommodate your projected data and business growth projections?
- Are you offering me shared or dedicated resources? Resource sharing is one way to cut costs, but you must satisfy yourself that the service provider’s resources are not spread too thin.
- Do you have a rigorous, regular testing programme? Any DR system is only as good as its most recent test. Ensure the service provider tests a wide variety of things, including failover and recovery, and that tests are regular. It’s also worth investigating whether test results are fed back into the operational process to ensure continuous improvement.
- How much DR experience do you have? Providers of managed DR must have done it before—you do not want to be a guinea pig. This experience should include proficiency with the leading DRaaS tools; without that experience, how will they be able to help you decide which tools would be best for your needs?
- How does your pricing work, and what will I receive? Pricing and contractual issues are at the heart of any commercial agreement, so great care should be taken to ensure that fair value is being received.
- Can you supply references? Finding out that your service provider is inadequate once a crisis has hit is too late. It is critical that the service provider provide you with reference clients who can give detailed feedback about the good and the bad.
Once you have chosen your managed DRaaS provider, you should expect to receive primary business and technical contacts; access to a portal containing information about the DRaaS resources and performance, including a dashboard of some kind; access to a user community of fellow clients; proactive notifications about challenges or changes; and help with testing.
In our next blog, I will attempt to identify the success factors of a successful DR plan.