Affordable Disaster Recovery for SMBs Within Reach

By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2005-04-25

Affordable Disaster Recovery for SMBs Within Reach

When it comes to disaster recovery and business continuity planning, small and midsize businesses dont get to slide because of their size.

However, many of the technologies designed for disaster recovery and remote-data protection are geared toward larger companies with big budgets and high-speed WAN links between sites. For SMBs, which often rely on broadband Internet service and have razor-thin budgets, these solutions are out of reach.

Luckily for SMBs, there are a handful of services that can affordably protect their data and help them recover it when bad things happen.

Click here to read how IT managers are using disaster recovery technology in new ways.

One such service has been a lifesaver for Al Zaccario, IT director for New Castle Hotels & Resorts, based in Shelton, Conn. Zaccario alone provides IT support to his companys 18 hotel properties, so being on-site to deal with data problems—whether resulting from user error, hardware failure, or natural or unnatural disaster—is not always possible.

From his office in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., Zaccario can use LiveVault Corp.s InSync service to make sure his clients—spread out across the northeastern United States and Canada—are backing up their data regularly, and he can restore their data when problems arise.

These capabilities are especially helpful in the hospitality industry, where its common for many people to share a single computer—increasing the chances for accidents.

Indeed, Zaccario has more than once seen hotel payroll files corrupted or even deleted. In the past, hotel managers would have had to re-create such files from scratch, a tedious process that can take several hours. Using LiveVaults InSync, said Zaccario, files can be restored in a matter of minutes.

With the InSync service, backup data is stored at LiveVaults off-site facility. At the beginning of this year, Zaccario upgraded to LiveVaults InControl solution, which allows backup data from all of the hotels to be centralized at New Castles data center in Tarrytown, N.Y.

InSync cost New Castle $300 to $700 per system per month, said Zaccario. The license for InControl starts at $25,000, but there are no monthly service fees.

For many SMBs, the only safety net built into their IT infrastructure is standard tape backups. When these systems fail, some IT managers are lucky to get a second chance by bringing in a data recovery specialist.

A month and a half ago, someone broke into Olsson Associates data center and deleted the data partitions on the primary file server, leaving Senior Systems Administrator Chad TerMaat to pick up the pieces. After analyzing tape backups for the NetWare-based file server, which held roughly 1TB of data and e-mail for 225 employees at that site, TerMaat found that the last valid backup he could restore would have been missing as much as three business days worth of data.

A company bigger than Olsson might have had systems in place—including clustering, remote data replication, mirroring, snapshots and continuous data protection—that would have prevented a problem in the first place. For many SMBs, however, the software and hardware needed to implement such systems are simply too expensive.

Next Page: Finding the data recovery service that fits.

Affordable Disaster Recovery for

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TerMaat looked at several data recovery services before settling on Kroll Ontrack Inc.s Remote Data Recovery, which performs data recovery over the Internet and analyzes data on hard drives at the block level and attempts to re-create data that has been corrupted or deleted.

"Remote Data Recovery services got us up and running faster than tape backup would have," said TerMaat. "And none of the other recovery services we looked at provided that sort of service for NetWare."

The Remote Data Recovery software communicated from Olsson Associates system to Ontracks recovery site, where Ontrack personnel remotely conducted the recovery operation. Once the process began, an Ontrack recovery engineer controlled the fallen server and ran diagnostic tools remotely to analyze the servers storage system.

After the diagnostics were run, the Ontrack recovery engineer gave TerMaat a list of recoverable files. Luckily, Remote Data Recovery could restore TerMaats data volumes to the way they were before the incident. The restoration process, from beginning to end, took roughly two days.

To read more about some of the latest hardware and management wares from storage vendors, click here.

Ontrack charges a $100 diagnostic fee, and a basic recovery starts at $1,000. To recover a large file server, IT managers should expect to spend several thousand dollars, depending on the amount of data that must be recovered.

Remote Data Recovery also came to the rescue of Pathfinder Insurance, a 45-person company. A server BIOS update gone awry nearly obliterated important documents stored on the companys combination file and e-mail server.

Like many small businesses, Pathfinder Insurance relies on tape backups as its primary means of data protection. Unfortunately, because of budget constraints and a limited IT staff (one person), the companys backup software had not been updated, and full restore tests were not being performed at the time of the incident. As a result, the data restore left the company with files that were 2 months old.

Pathfinder IT Director John Long, in Houston, decided against sending disks to a local data-recovery service because the service would not give his company a bond to ensure their safety.

Furthermore, because client data was stored on the disks, sending the disks off-site put client privacy at risk.

Like TerMaat, Long decided to go with Ontracks Remote Data Recovery, which does not require data to leave a site. Remote Data Recovery restored Longs data in one day, with no data lost.

Long has since upgraded his backup software and is looking to implement local (within data center) data mirroring technology to ensure that a problem like this doesnt happen again.

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