Plan for the worst: SMBs

In light of the recent power outage affecting the Eastern Seabord, and other potential hair-raising scenarios, Veritas is on a push to educate SMBs on how to plan for a disaster.

And the push couldn’t come soon enough. According to a recent U.S. survey of IT managers, one-fourth of them say

the survival of the firm would be at risk if a disaster struck, and that they don’t have a disaster recovery (DR) plan in place.

The survey, sponsored by Veritas and conducted by Dynamics Markets Ltd., also shows DR coverage is lacking. Almost a quarter of disaster recovery plans (23 per cent) do not cover the entire data centre, and only 15 per cent cover all of a company’s remote offices. Only 20 per cent of disaster recovery plans cover the desktop environment, and 14 per cent cover the laptop environment, the survey found.

Fred Dimson, general manager of Veritas Software (Canada) Inc., says the Canadian scene is much the same. While larger companies seem to have better control “”and were reasonably prepared during the blackout and were able to recover in almost all cases because they had backup,”” the SMB market is way behind.

“”SMBs need to address this now before another problem exists. I think they are getting a better feel for what it takes. Some investment at the front-end will pay off dividends at the back-end later. It’s a growing area in Canada and will continue over the next few years.””

Indeed, the apathy towards implementing data protection solutions needs to be chipped away, Dimson says. “”It’s not just a big disaster that causes the issue, but loss of an e-mail or loss of a disk drive, or something that causes people to lose valuable information – and if they don’t have a (DR) plan, it puts them behind the eight-ball in terms of getting things done.””

So what’s the best way to get the message out to customers? He says the best bet is to work with a reseller who can respond to a company’s particular needs and offer tailor-made solutions.

“”The key is to understand the business, and the ones that really recognize this and are picking it up from a VAR perspective, understand the solution. What is the customer trying to accomplish here and then helping them put the pieces together that they may require.””

And while resellers can benefit from building a trusted relationship with the customer, he says it takes a lot of hard work. “”It’s typically a longer sale cycle . . . but on the positive side, once you become the trusted supplier to that company, they will look at you a lot differently. They will go to you and say, ‘I have this problem, how do I look at it?'””

Look at their applications and understand the customer’s service-level agreement, he says. “”Keep those up and running (and work backwards to that solution). Customers really appreciate it . . . That’s something that nobody typically does in the smaller area.””

VARs need to go beyond selling software or hardware, and marketing on the price capability, he says. “”It’s critical to understand your applications, and which ones need to be back up and running. Because not all of them do.””

SMBs today have two main needs, he says. “”In today’s environment, e-mail has become more and more important to people to communicate. The other thing is in an SMB, certainly their ability to invoice customers is critical. So if they aren’t billing them, they aren’t getting any revenue in.””

Veritas is also pitching more than data protection, he adds. The company is moving into archiving and other things around mail, as well as replicating Windows environments from one location to another.

“”Depending on the size of the business, in some cases clustering becomes another factor where they put multiple machines and fail them over to run a particular environment.””

In addition to data protection, backup and recovery, SMBs need to consider storage management (using storage resource management tools), data replication and clustering.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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