Recovery Service Fetches Mission-Critical Software

IGS' Shadow Infrastructure helps clients create mirrored systems.

Service providers are rolling out improved ways to safeguard mission-critical applications for enterprises no longer content to back up data alone.

IBM Global Services is readying a new disaster recovery services practice designed to help clients create mirrored systems that can fail over to a backup within minutes. The services will go head to head with services from SunGard Data Systems Inc.

IGS Shadow Infrastructure provides the ability to recover the data and the applications in a remote location.

"[Customers] can split the workload so that half is running in one center, half in another, and data is constantly mirrored," said Roger Schwanhausser, director of storage services at IGS, in Southbury, Conn. "If one goes down, the system [instantly] routes traffic to the remaining site, and it picks up the whole workload."

"Were seeing easily a third of our customers have genuine interest in looking at high availability for critical applications," said Jim Grogan, vice president of alliances at SunGard, which is offering similar services through its Availability Services unit.

Such services, however, come with a very high price. "A company has to be in a position to fund a more comprehensive solution," said Grogan in Wayne, Pa.

Implementations for a smaller application can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and larger, more complex implementations cost in the millions of dollars, IGS Schwanhausser said.

"IBM took ownership of all the components to make sure it all works," said IGS disaster recovery customer Suresh Kumar, CIO at Pershing, a Credit Suisse First Boston Corp. company in Jersey City, N.J. "Every application file in our mainframe gets replicated in real time. We would not lose any application when we have a problem."

The new IGS practice will employ 100 consultants, architects and implementers and provide a range of services including system planning, design, implementation and defining business requirements. Clients also have the option of having the service managed by IGS Business Continuity Services group.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the increasing reliance on customer-facing applications have increased the need for faster recovery times, and demand is expanding into more application areas—beyond traditional banking or trading applications—into customer support and data warehouses. "Customers are fickle. They tend to look for other alternatives if they dont get the kinds of immediate customer service weve become accustomed to," Schwanhausser said.

The IGS mirror site is typically another data center owned by the client, rather than the typical hot site owned by IGS or another third party, as is the case with traditional disaster recovery packages.

For those companies that still want a managed hot site but are leery of competing for attention with larger users during an outage, a new player in the United States is readying dedicated services with a vow to keep the ratio of customers to capacity low.

SchlumbergerSema Ltd.s Global Recovery Services, also in Jersey City, last month opened its second hot-site facility in the United States, in Iselin, N.J., with plans to add other sites in the country this year, according to General Manager Joseph Riscica.