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Expert Interview with Paolo Ardemagni About the Importance of a Quality Disaster Recovery System

How many companies are actually prepared for a real disaster?

In every company, at least in the so-called “enterprise space,” there should be a plan for a disaster recovery. The challenge is minimizing the downtime that an outage will cause. Today, the proliferation of the appliance is a big issue, and precautions can be taken by IT and security experts for many speculated events which might affect the continuous and smooth running of their infrastructure.

Disasters included summer hailstorms in Germany, floods in Central Europe, and multiple storms in the United States with serious flooding in Colorado. The destructive power of typhoons hit coastal regions, islands and also inland regions throughout Southeast Asia. So companies should be prepared; but when this happens, there is a lack of “common interface” unifying all the security and networking appliances that are key for any company in the world. That’s why minimizing the “downtime” is key for any company.

What are the shortfalls of most disaster recovery plans?

While data centers are insured to replace their damaged hardware, software and other equipment, most of the IT manager’s trouble still lies ahead. Reconfiguring tens or hundreds of servers, load balancers, and firewalls is complicated and tricky. An automated infrastructure configuration backup and recovery solution is crucial to make this process as effortless and painless as possible, thereby saving you from having to reconfigure every single device.

What should businesses look for in a solid disaster recovery solution?

By enabling security and other mission-critical applications, the organization’s network and security devices are absolutely essential to maintaining business continuity. Each device must be configured correctly to provide the necessary connectivity and security, and failure of even one of them can cause network downtime and loss of business.

How can a business be sure that their disaster recovery plan is adequate?

Without backup of critical network device configurations, recovery from a device failure or disaster can take far longer as correct configurations are tracked down for each device. The business can be secured when a configuration information is saved automatically and regularly, so the end-customer can be confident in having the right network device configuration settings at his fingertips at all times. It’s common for organizations not to bother saving and backing up configurations for load balancers and content filters, and backups for router and switch settings are rarely performed.

With firewalls, manual backups are most common, and often there is no central coordination of this process nor verification that it was done correctly. Likewise, settings for offsite storage devices are often backed up manually and may or may not be backed up frequently enough. With custom devices, many organizations depend on vendor-based backup capability, which may or may not be adequate.

What are some of the potential disasters that businesses usually don’t think to be prepared for?

Let’s analyze in depth what the businesses usually do not do. Routers and switches configurations today are rarely saved. Firewalls normally do manual backup without a central location. They also do not normally verify that this has occurred correctly. There is no backup for load balancers and content filtering. If there is a new device, they have to ask to the vendor for a customization. The central dashboard, notifications and reports are the most important need for a customer.

What are some experiences you can tell us about to illustrate a successful disaster recovery process?

A disaster recovery process that can be considered successful is the one that minimizes downtime and restores connectivity to affected areas of the network. Achieving this goal is done by means of having two crucial aspects of the process handy: gaining quick access to the configuration files, and having a clear understanding on what the recovery process will look like. Customers have reported that once the process is clear in advance and the information is available, their recovery process becomes seamless and successful.

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