IMT unveils enterprise data recovery lab

Saudi vendor helps companies recover their data with class ‘A’ clean room but the region remains ill at ease with full scale business continuity solutions.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  February 8, 2004

|~|philcarter.jpg|~|Sun Guard’s Phil Carter says the Middle East’s disaster recovery market is still nascent.|~|Saudi vendor helps companies recover their data with class ‘A’ clean room but the region remains ill at ease with full scale BCP solutions. Information Management Technologies (IMT) has opened an enterprise level data recovery lab in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. The Al-Suwaidi Group subsidiary’s facility promises to recover data from any storage media, ranging from simple corrupted floppies through to crashed server hard disks and tape drives that have been infected by viruses or spoilt by environmental conditions. The lab is equipped to handle and clean dust particles down to 30 microns and is ranked as a class ‘A’ clean room environment. IMT is targeting users of enterprise storage area networks (SANs) to begin with, and it is currently working with storage and server vendors to bundle their data recovery services with its own. With data recovery from any platform priced at 10 Riyals per megabyte (US$2.60), the lab promises same-day delivery for enterprise customers. “We are the Middle East’s first independent data recovery lab for enterprises and small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs),” says Vernon Fryer, IMT’s head of information security & risk management solutions. According to industry estimates, companies lost data valued at US$2 billion in 2003 alone as mechanical or electrical failure, virus activity, system malfunctions or accidental erasure by water and fire wiped information. As such, IMT believes there is a huge market for data recovery in the region and intends to open a second facility in Dubai later this year. “The Middle East, with its climatic conditions and low awareness of data storage or backup has a lot of cases of lost data,” says Fryer. Although simple data recovery appears to be a long way from full business continuity planning (BCP), it is often the first step many end user organisations take. And, in a region where few have begun the journey to complete BCP, Fryer believes it is important for Middle East companies to understand the value of backing up their data. “Data recovery is the first step of a disaster recovery plan and most companies here don’t test their backup, which can be prone to failure,” he says. However, other vendors appear less patient and are keen to see the region’s users educate themselves and move rapidly from basic back up and retrieval to full disaster recovery capabilities. “Enterprises in the Middle East are yet to fully understand the risk factors involved from a business discontinuity point of view. They [local users] think taking a backup is business continuity and is enough for disaster recovery,” says Ali Khan, senior IT consultant, HP Services Middle East. “Companies are confusing enterprise or business continuity with mere backup solutions. Just one storage product or server won’t solve business continuity issues,” adds Stefan Niemiec, business continuity solutions manager at Sun Microsystems, MENA. Such views are backed up by recent research from Dynamic Markets. Commissioned by Veritas, the report reveals that although 82% of Middle East companies suffer unplanned downtime, only 25% of local IT managers are developing a business continuity plan. Furthermore, only a few teleco operators, such as STC and Etisalat, and banks like Arab National Bank and Mashreq Bank, have built or are building fully redundant disaster recovery centres. “The ‘inshallah’ mentality still prevails with business continuity here. With developing infrastructure and issues like connectivity, bandwidth and availability of recovery sites, the market is still nascent,” says Phil Carter, head of professional services, Sun Guard. Despite this gloomy outlook, all the vendors are confident that the data recovery market will mature into full BCP and disaster recovery over time. For instance, Sun Guard, which operates more than 70 dedicated disaster recovery sites worldwide, has started to target the Middle East through a local partnership with Computer Associates Middle East (CA-ME) and established vendors are also talking to potential customers about their solutions and the benefits they deliver. As Niemiec says: “Driven by regulatory issues and pressure from customers and suppliers across time zones to have 24/7 availability, more enterprises will be forced to take up business continuity and gradually make it a part of their IT infrastructure.” ||**||

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