Ahmad Khattab vice president Sales, Growth Markets EMEA and Henry Martinez, vice president, Sales Engineering, from Vision Solutions discuss what steps companies should be taking to ensure proper protection of vital data.
Published Sunday, 15 July 2012
Ahmad Khattab vice president Sales, Growth Markets EMEA and Henry Martinez, vice president, Sales Engineering, with data back-up and recovery specialists Vision Solutions discuss what steps companies should be taking to ensure proper protection of vital data.
By Georgina Enzer
Do companies in the Middle East fully realise the importance of data back-up and recovery systems?
Khattab: Yes they do, since the mid 90s they have. If you look at Dubal – our first customer in the Middle East and one of our first customers to be on disaster recovery and it still is. The Middle Eastern companies really have that focus and have had that focus since early on in the process even before some countries in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Has there been an increase in awareness in data recovery solutions since the unrest in the region?
Khattab: A great deal. The companies that had put it off and thought it was not important have really increased their interest in data recovery and back-up since the advent of the Arab Spring and have moved towards implementation. We did see an increase of activity both during and after the Arab Spring and organisations now, across the board from banking to distribution, to retail, and cross-sectors are looking at disaster recovery differently than they did prior to the unrest.
What percentage of the large enterprises in the Middle East have a strong data back-up and recovery solution implemented?
Khattab: I would say that the financial sector has one of the strongest data back-up and recovery implementations I have seen around the world – they have all adopted. If you look at Emirates Bank, Dubai Stock Market, Abu Dhabi Stockmarket, Bahrain etc, all the financial sector – I would say adoption is in the 90% range. Other sectors in the market I would say in the 50% to 60% margin.
How do you do data back-up and recovery for public and private cloud?
Khattab: From our perspective, we look at the cloud as the future – our company can support the physical world, the virtual world and now the cloud, where companies choose to take a bunch of software, but instead of taking it to another hardware they take it to the cloud.
We do have the flexibility to work in the cloud and it is cost-effective for them not to maintain the hardware and go to the cloud, public or private.
Martinez: If your internet service provider goes down you lose access to the cloud so if you need to run your business at all costs, you need to look at where you copy your data. Look at a virtual back-up on site – if you back it up on site, you don’t need the internet to restore and continue – if you rely strictly on cloud and you don’t have a virtual copy and your ISP connection goes down it can be a problem.
We can go physical, which means you can have a local replicated image, we can go physical to virtual which means you can take a computer and slice it up like a loaf of bread and each piece of the bread can hold one instance of the OS and data base or you can go to the cloud which in some cases has a real cost advantage because you don’t have to buy the second computer.
Khattab: But you still depend on the provider, if the provider goes down, you are still stuck to that.
Martinez: That is the difference between private and public cloud in private cloud you could be using the local area network of your business to create you private cloud, if you use the WAN that can be riskier. Most companies that are large are doing private clouds.
What should large enterprises have as a minimum back up solution?
Khattab: For a large enterprise the absolute minimum is to have a disaster recovery site, which is a back-up from a provider.
They rent a space somewhere - that is the absolute minimum. Some customers can afford hours offline, some cannot afford even seconds, so the solution they implement depends on their needs and that is where the investment should go – if they can afford three or four hours offline – they should go to a disaster recovery site – if they can’t afford that they must have their own infrastructure. Where they want to be is the key issue in the decision process. If you look at the banking sector, they do have their own needs.
Are there new developments in software and hardware for data recovery and back-up?
Martinez: We work very closely with companies like IBM and Microsoft, we work with Dell, HP and we frequently have what we call technology growth map alignment with them. Of course they are all under non-disclosure, but the focus has been on improving performance, improving ease of use, so that we can put these solutions in an easier reach of a broad spectrum of end-users. We are adopting cloud features and if you look at what is happening you will see computers that are virtualised, that run more than one OS at the same time. We are working very closely with companies like IBM to offer solutions that will allow a hybrid cluster of OS in one box to fail-over to another hybrid cluster and we have patents in those areas. All of our application technology is protected with our own intellectual property.
Are there differences between this region and Europe and the US in terms of implementing data back-up solutions?
Khattab: Technically, there is no difference. We look at the Middle East as a vital market for us, since the early Nineties we have been here, we have an office and local support, we do not have an office in Eastern Europe, but here we do because the localisation part is very critical – so we localise our offers when it comes to the Middle East, especially the GCC and Saudi. We believe Saudi is a huge market and we have a team of seven or eight people that support our infrastructure, so our local investment here differentiated the market from others.
What are the top five most important things a large enterprise network manager has to take into consideration when implementing a data back-up and recovery solution?
Martinez: Imagine if you have to move your house and you have a garage full of stuff. Before you move, you need to decide what you are going to keep or not, otherwise you are going to pay expensive moving costs to move everything over and then you did not need it – so you have to analyse what you really want to replicate and what is not important to replicate. Then you have to look at the trucking costs to move the stuff – that’s bandwidth in our world.
If you have a limited amount of bandwidth you can only move a few items a day, if you don’t have enough bandwidth you are going to have to get a bigger truck as you can’t be down. Look at your bandwidth and adjust it accordingly.
You have to look at your costs – is it within your budget?
You have to look at whether there is going to be any impact – if you need something in the garage and it is in the truck for three days and you can’t get to it – so you have to think about what to move first and what can move later. Once you are in the new house, you want to make sure that things are being replicated across both sites; you have to audit and make sure everything gets there safely.
What would you say to companies that don’t have a back-up system?
Khattab: Get yourself sorted! Fifteen to 20 years ago it used to be a luxury to have data back-up; it is no longer a luxury, it is absolutely essential. We have seen businesses go under because of a system shut down or disaster, or not having their application or data available at the time you need it.
Martinez: The biggest threat is complacency. Having a significant outage is an extinctor, you are gone.