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Dennis Zink: Great. One of the biggest problems that a company can confront is failing to adequately backup their data. They tend to suffer a loss that is difficult to come back from. What can companies do to protect themselves?

David Spire: For a starter, I would say a plan. A plan is a great place to start. We do plans for some other pieces of our business but it seems like this is an often overlooked area. It's just one of those things that until a situation happens, a catastrophe happens, there's not much thought given to it. Having that plan and having realistic expectations, we call them recovery time objectives. What it should look like, who should do, what, when to get the systems back online is really a key component.

Dennis Zink: What kind of disasters have you actually seen over the years?

David Spire: Being we're on the west coast of Florida, everybody is worried about the storm, the hurricane. I always joke around with clients and I say that, "That's the least of my concern. We see the idiot in the yellow rain slicker out there telling us, "Hey, it's coming; run.” Right? Most frequently, the ones that we warn our clients against is fire, theft, flood and malicious intent by former disgruntled employees. Those are the four most frequent areas that we'll see problems occur and it's usually an offset of one of those four that create the problems as it relates the data loss.

Dennis Zink: I had an employee that as she was leaving she was deleting information and I said, "What are you doing?"

David Spire:  All right, exactly.

Dennis Zink: You surely never know. David, what are you seeing out in the business environment today that relates to business continuity and recovery time objectives? What do you mean by recovery time objectives? If you can explain that.

David Spire:   Thanks, Dennis. With backups, if we go back about five years in backups, the main thing clients were worried about is just: Do we have the information? Are we able to get back up and running?

 As technology has kind of evolved over the last I'll call it half a decade, it seems like with the cloud, business is going paperless. There's more and more of a demand for this electronic information and its got to be real-time. If we take those systems away, the business ceases to function.

 Think of medical with electronic medical records. If the doctor can't get to those records, they can't see. There's no more paper charts to pull. We've already converted over from that.

As we sit down with clients and we try to develop these plans the question usually is, “How fast can I be up and running?” Or they'll say something like, "This downtime isn't an option." Having a predefined set of expectations of how quickly we can get systems back up and online and setting the plan around that in advance is really the key. It could be anywhere from zero downtime, which would require complete redundant hot site of information, so all the systems and hardware and software have to be replicated somewhere else. Anywhere down to a day; eight hours. There's a price tag associated with both of those. We've got to find that balance between cost and benefit and make sure that they mesh up.

Fred Dunayer: That's interesting. I experienced just last night, Tivo's servers were down. I went out to their community forum and the vitriol that was being expressed by their customers, who couldn't schedule a new season pass or couldn't set up something to record, was immense.

For a good size company to have customer-facing systems and those customers not be able to use those systems can ...  I would think in certain situations literally cause a company to cease to exist.

 

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