All posts by lilacschoenbeck

Is IT resilience now something for businesses to be getting excited about?


The provocative side of IT resilience is made up of all the threats that today have more and more people talking about it than ever before. Let’s face it, who isn’t intrigued (and worried, terrified or simply concerned) by headlines about IT failures that have triggered nationwide flight cancellations or data hostage situations or global service outages? 

That said, even less dramatic outages like ING Bank and Glasgow City Council still hit the headlines here in the UK last month.  ING Bank’s regional data centre went offline due to a fire drill gone wrong (reports suggest that more than one million customers were affected by the downtime), and Glasgow City Council lost its email for three days after a fire system blew in the Council’s data centre.

The stark reality is business threats are only becoming more pervasive, and whether that is because of ever-evolving cyber-attacks, or human errors being made by overworked teams, or aging hardware and systems that just keep breaking down…the list is constantly growing and goes on and on. 

In the face of these rising threats, there have been two recent and very fundamental shifts in the way C-suite and IT executives think about business continuity.

The first one is that IT resilience is no longer doomed to the proverbial backburner and only something that the IT team needs to concern itself with. This is especially true as the “powers that be” realise cloud-based backup and disaster recovery are extremely cost and resource-efficient. Near-zero downtimes are standard with the right technology and support. Implementation time can be measured in hours meaning that the path to securing executive buy-in is well paved and far easier than it might have been in the past.

That said, at a roundtable that we hosted last month in London with senior IT executives to discuss the findings from our latest survey, The State of IT Disaster Recovery Amongst UK Businesses, the group did debate whether business decision makers really understood the financial impact of downtime. Moreover, whether more education is needed about recovery times and what can be recovered, with the group concluding that clearer prioritisation around different systems needs to be implemented so the business understands what will happen when outages take place.

The second fundamental shift is that security is now a top priority for Disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) and backup. When choosing a DRaaS or Backup-as-a-service (BaaS) provider, companies are rightfully now asking more questions about security first, right along with speed of recovery and all the other questions that you might expect get asked. Here at iland, with our advanced security cloud platform as our answer, we couldn’t be happier that this is now the case.

We are thrilled to be helping more companies ensure IT resilience is faster than ever before.  In fact, these shifts in executive and business thinking have contributed to our 248% growth in DRaaS and BaaS in the first half of this year, and we’ve doubled the number of new customers we’re now working with.

So why is this? 

To my mind this comes down to a few key factors:

  • Companies adopt BaaS as the natural first step to geographic diversification, sending secondary copies to a secure location with less than five minutes of setup time. With our pricing model, companies can protect themselves from data loss, compliance fines and malicious threats like ransomware at very little expense, which is of course very attractive.
  • DRaaS has become the standard when every second counts, cost-efficiently enabling companies to minimise IT downtime that is often measured in the thousands of dollars per minute. 
  • Security and compliance are key to our customersand our advanced security cloud platform integrates all the components our customers need to maintain security best practices in the cloud. 
  • Backup and disaster recovery prove to be stepping stones to broader cloud migration. Customers increasingly fail over to the iland cloud as part of a DR effort and choose to remain there, rather than failing back.
  • In a disaster, companies report exceptional phone support is critical,as it provides the last piece of assurance a failover will succeed. Therefore it is critical that cloud service providers factor this into the overall package that they offer.

As I said at the outset, IT resilience is becoming much more of a business and mainstream issue and with IT resilience now firmly on the agenda for most organisations we are excited to be able to put our customers’ worries to rest.  At the same time, we hope they are equally excited about getting some sleep and having their worries taken care of.  

Disaster recovery as a service and how humans are often driven by fear


The media is rife with examples of how human nature is strongly driven by fear; fear of the unknown, fear of failure, even fear of success. Human nature doesn’t leave the equation when we put on our corporate badges and walk through the glass doors of corporate UK.

We’re still human. And we still fear.

One of the major fears that plagues even the most relaxed corporate employee is the fear of failure. We advise the new guy to stay away from political quagmires. We sell against our competition with the tried and tested fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) formula. We wield fear as a weapon and we call on fear as an excuse.

It’s important to drag that fear out of the shadows. In my line of work with disaster recovery, that means bringing someone face-to-face with the terrible, horrible likelihood of A Bad Thing Happening. To do that, it’s important to remember that people tend to confront their fears if they can see a solution – a good solution. We’re all turtles, hiding in our shells until someone shows us a sliver of dawn on the horizon.

In my world – disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) – the technology has shifted fundamentally in the last few years. It’s the difference between landlines and iPhones, between Model Ts and a four wheel drive, between the pony express and email – you get the picture.

But, given that it’s a bit of an esoteric corner of the tech space, the emergence of this new technology hasn’t manifested itself in lines of eager buyers, waiting in eight hour queues for the chance to sign up. Knowledge is slow to travel – and faith in the information takes time.

The same human responses – in far more corporate clothing – come out. It’s smoke and mirrors – it can’t possibly work. Sure, but what’s the catch? And who do I call if it fails – a call centre in Moldova? And, of course…we’ve never had a disaster. That’s the place we all retreat to in our core: denial. It has never happened to us – and it will never happen to us. Surveys show that upwards of 70% of companies have had to trigger some disaster plan in the past year – and yet, it will never happen to us.

And frankly, that’s how we all get by in this world. This is the protective part of our psyche that enables us to get behind the wheel of a car, ride an airplane, or invest our money without falling into paralysing levels of anxiety. But, it can be counterproductive to keeping an open mind.

So my job becomes a timing game of dancing between the synapses in the corporate brain. Show them the facts – it will happen to you. Most likely, it won’t be a calamity or widespread event. It will probably be a huge inconvenience triggered by a power outage or faulty upgrade. And, in the few moments before they retreat back into the shell of denial, I gesture wildly towards the horizon – the solution is easier than you think.

I should do the research, but I’m willing to bet that people are far more likely to get tested for ailments where a solution is understood to be routine. Why learn you can’t be cured? Denial is far more pleasant. That’s why quick fix answers to diets and exercise and smoking cessation are so popular – because the long hard road is too much to bear.

Corporate humans are just humans in suits. And, while they may never make it to the top viral videos list, seeing a company triumph over fear and obstacles to save themselves from peril is a no-less-inspiring story than those heartwarming videos of kids and dogs. At least, to those of us battling fear. 

Understanding the difference between DRaaS and backup for your business


According to a report by one of the big four auditors, KPMG, more than 40% of companies that suffer a major business disruption are unable to recover from the long-term impact of the failure and go out of business within two years.

To avoid this fate, organisations must have a solid disaster recovery strategy in place. Cloud-based disaster recovery and backup solutions are giving companies of all sizes access to business continuity capabilities that were once only available to enterprises with large IT footprints. However, many teams are confused about the difference between disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) and backup. As a result, companies are settling for inadequate protection or spending more money than necessary on solutions that they do not essentially need.

The bank account analogy

I’ve found it’s helpful to use an analogy to explain the difference. Let’s pretend your IT systems are actually a bank account. Now, if you find yourself with a zero balance in your bank account you’re in a dark place. However, let’s pretend you didn’t know it and wrote one more cheque to, let’s say, the paper boy (it’s the 90s in this analogy so I can say paper boy).

The backup system is like having £1000 under your mattress. This is what happens. The cheque bounces; you incur a £30 fee; the paper boy is annoyed; you hand him some cash next time he delivers the paper and he recovers.

So, you are safe. You keep getting your ever-critical morning paper but it hurt a bit and took a few days to resolve.

If this were an IT system, maybe you’d have to find/buy new hardware, set it up, find the backup and bring the systems up from the backup copy. All this would take a few days, at a minimum, and all the while you’d lose some revenue due to systems being down and a bunch of people would be pretty peeved. But, at the end of the day, you wouldn’t lose all your data. It was backed up.

A disaster recovery system on the other hand is like an overdraft account. This is what happens. The cheque clears and the paper boy is none the wiser. Your bank extends a ‘loan’ to you in the form of an overdraft account, for which you may pay a bit of interest. You can rectify the situation with funds from elsewhere at your earliest convenience.

So, you are also safe and there was no discontinuity of service. It may have cost a bit, but not a lot. By and large, no one really knew anything went wrong.

If this were an IT system, your failover would happen in seconds or minutes to a cloud-based target environment where the workloads would hum along as though nothing happened. Until you were ready to fail-back you would pay a relatively small fee for the resources you used. No one would be angry about lost revenue or broken systems.

Making the right choice for your business

Now that the difference between the two is clear, let’s come back to the present day. Which solution do you go with to protect your business? For workloads where downtime is deadly, DRaaS is the way to go. For workloads where you’d hate to lose the data, but it isn’t critical stuff (like development systems), backup may be sufficient. For many operational and regulatory compliance reasons, customers may do both.

Increasingly we are finding that many of our customers are looking at a blended solution. The nice thing is that you can easily configure and deploy both, while making use of an exceptional global cloud infrastructure that provides access to off-site alternatives at a fraction of the cost of building another data centre. Additionally, with bonuses like free bandwidth, no setup fees, encrypted storage and included technical support, this is a solution that you can easily sell to your business.

Any extended loss of productivity can lead to a reduced cash flow through late invoicing, lost orders and increased costs as staff work extra hours to recover from the downtime, missed delivery dates and so on. After all, to go back to my analogy, no one wants to deal with an irate paper boy – or even worse – an irate executive.