VARS Play Vital Role in Preparing for the Next Katrina

By Elliot Markowitz  |  Print this article Print


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Opinion: Business Continuity is a critical component in any company's IT strategy. Katrina has reinforced this point in a very tragic way.

It is unfortunate that a tragic event such as Hurricane Katrina is sometimes what it takes for organizations, large and small, to take a serious look at their disaster planning and recovery strategy.

While a catastrophe of this proportion will deeply change and impact thousands of lives forever, it will also destroy companies and put folks out of work, exacerbating the situation further. It's on this latter point where a VAR is most influential and critical.

Disaster recovery, or better yet, business continuity, is the next big opportunity for the channel after managed services. While there is no doubt businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama will turn to their VAR partners to get them up and running again, more organizations will now realize that they need to have a plan not just to save their systems and data but to organize the staff and get basic temporary communications established for when a disaster hits. VARs already are embedded in their customers' businesses have a vital role here in helping to establish, and then implement, this.

"VARs and integrators are going to play a huge role here. There is a big need to get consultants out there examining the damage and recommending new systems," said Oli Thordarson, president and CEO of Alvaka Networks, of Huntington Beach, Calif. "These same clients are now going to have a different view of disaster recovery and redundancy. Many of these clients, though, will never reopen, especially if they don't have a current and well-planned nexus of their insurance business continuity plans in place, coupled with a sound IT business continuity plan," he said.

Thordarson is right. Many businesses won't ever recover because they never took the time to prepare.

While so many organizations are pumping any resource they can into IT security, it all is for naught if they do not have a comprehensive and well-thought-out business continuity strategy. While tragic, Katrina could be the wake-up call some companies need to put such plans in place, and VARs should be at the center. This is a strong value-add play and hinges on the relationship between a VAR and its customer. This is not simply selling some backup storage and keeping it locked away in an offsite location.

Click here to read why disaster preparedness remains a hard sell.

"There is a business continuity movement going on, really at the very beginning stages. Not many VARs think about it, but I believe it is the next requirement for VARs," said Ron Cook, president of Connecting Point, in Las Vegas. "First comes managed services and then, oh my, if we are the outsourced IT department, what about security? And then, once that is all assimilated, it's a great next step to complete the process."

But Cook warns that business continuity is not just business recovery from backup tapes. "Many VARs think backup tapes and hard drive companies cover this. That is recovery not continuation. Where do the employees show up after a disaster? Where do you work from? Where do the telephone calls go?"

Currently there is too little of this type of planning going on, specifically in the SMB space, where budgets are tight. VARs need to proactively get the word out and start solving these issues so they still have customers when something terrible happens.

As Cook humbly put it: "Unfortunately, no one thinks about it until there is a disaster and then they quickly forget it. You would have thought after 9/11 all that would have changed, but, no, it is not happening."

Elliot Markowitz is editor at large at The Channel Insider. He is also editorial director of Ziff Davis Media eSeminars. He can be reached at Elliot_Markowitz@ziffdavis.com.

Elliot Markowitz Elliot Markowitz is Editorial Director of Ziff Davis Media eSeminars responsible for the editorial content of all eSeminars. Markowitz is a 14-year publishing veteran and was previously Editor-in-Chief of CRM Magazine and the destinationCRM.com website and related live events. Before CRM Magazine, he was Business Editor at TechTV, responsible for helping to manage the TV station's website as well as conducting live on-air interviews with key industry executives.

Markowitz also spent 11 years with CMP Media's award-winning weekly newspaper Computer Reseller News (CRN), where he held many key editorial positions including News Editor, Business Editor, and Senior Executive Editor. In 1999 he was named Editor of CRN, responsible for the entire editorial operation of the newspaper and in charge of coordinating its redesign and re-launch in June 2000. While at CRN, Markowitz initiated many key alliances including the Industry Hall of Fame event in Las Vegas and the annual CRN/Raymond James Conference. Early in his career Markowitz was a news reporter on Long Island for the Massapequa Post.

He holds a B.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and is a graduate of the Stanford Professional Publishing Course.

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