01 Oct 2011
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Partnering through crisis

We’re all good at different things and rather than trying to be all things to all people, we should stick to the things we do best and partner on the things we don’t. That way we’ll always have the best solution to meet our needs.Typically backup and recovery are not seen as core day to day functions in a production environment and therefore don’t get the attention they require or deserve. Partnering with a specialist in the field provides you with assurance that not only is your data being backed up, but it’s being properly managed and monitored to ensure it’s robust and accessible when you need it.At Plan-b we also rely on IT partnerships to ensure we continue to offer the best solutions to our customers. Our partnerships expose us to new technologies, industry intelligence and ideas that help us build our expertise and stay on top of our game.In addition, partners who understand each other’s capabilities can engage more efficiently and get the best out of each other. This is even more important in a time of stress or urgency where a business needs help to recover from an unplanned event.For example, when the February 22 earthquake struck Christchurch, our existing partnerships meant within two days we were able to secure office space, access a significant quantity of office & infrastructure equipment and get new data communications lines up and running. We set up a fully functional standby office before some of our customers were ready to use it.This activity was above and beyond our normal level of commitment, but our customer requirements quickly exceeded our normal capacity. We needed our partners to deliver hardware we hadn’t forecast and connect systems that would usually take weeks to provision. Our key supply partners knew how important these services would be to our customers and they pulled out all the stops to deliver. We could never have achieved this turnaround with partners that didn’t value our relationship and know how to engage quickly.Ensuring QualityStrong partnerships with our customers are also extremely important to the quality of recovery we can offer. The deeper the relationship we have with a customer, the better the recovery experience will be.For example, if we are managing a customer’s backup, testing and proving the quality of their backup, and they are subscribed to our standby office and infrastructure service, we can offer a complete recovery and way to work in a short timeframe. We can do this because we already have their data, we know it’s robust and we understand their needs for a temporary working environment.If a customer only subscribes to part of our service suite, there can be delays as they locate their backup or advise where or how we need to restore data or (in the worst case scenario) if they discover that their untested backup is not recoverable.Our customers know that in a crisis they can call us as soon as they are ready to begin a recovery, as this service is available 24/7. They have one number that once activated provides them with access to the range of services they have selected and we will assign resources to get them back up and running quickly.The Christchurch situation has made some customers review how they work with their IT providers. It became clear that some practices did not adequately protect business data or make it sufficiently easy to recover from a significant event. At a minimum, businesses must ensure that their backup is stored offsite and away from their production environment. Too many businesses discovered too late that storing their backup in a safe in the office (or worse) was no protection when they couldn’t access their building to get the data. What we also found was, as part of the recovery, some customers needed to become more flexible about how they accessed their data. When their normal server infrastructure was damaged or unavailable, they needed to host their data elsewhere. We were able to restore on to our standby hardware and either deliver to a location of their choice, or host customer data in our private cloud and make it available remotely to their new location.Trust was an essential factor in this change in relationship as these customers became reliant on our systems and secure processes to both serve and protect their data.Insurance concernsAnother outcome has been the realisation that insurance won’t necessary cover all losses from a major event. A lump sum of money won’t replace years of critical business data. To be able to truly recover from a crisis, companies need to reduce the risk of losing data at all, before a crisis happens.Our customers benefit from partnering with a specialist in business recovery. They can access dedicated expertise and resources when they need them, rather than assigning the tasks to someone internal who is likely to have other priorities. In the case of business recovery, some very specialised skills are required and usually you need to access extra resources for a short period of time.Having the right partner for these specialised requirements means a much less stressful experience should you be struck by an unexpected event.As another example, one of our customers, who has the additional duties of a publicly listed entity, was unable to access their building and IT infrastructure after both Christchurch earthquakes.Because of the strong relationship they had with us, we were able to restore their data on to our Plan-b private cloud and present the data back to all of their 22 sites around the country, as well as one of our standby facilities which became their new temporary head office. They were up and running as soon as they were ready to start engaging with their stakeholders, and they could concentrate on looking after their people and their plans rather than worrying about recovering their data and systems.We see IT partnerships as an essential part of our business. We rely on our partners to help guide where our business needs to go next, and to work with us to ensure we have the best solutions available for current needs.

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