Stephanie Balaouras

IBM announced today that it was spending US$300 million to build out 13 data centers in 10 countries in 2008 – IBM refers to these sites as "Business Resilience service delivery centers". These centers will certainly help IBM deliver more of its traditional IT recovery services but they will also support the next generation of IT continuity services – repeatable, scalable, productize services such as online backup and virtual recovery.  These types of services don’t require massive capital investment in an inventory of heterogeneous server and storage platforms, instead the service provider can focus its efforts on building a scalable pool of virtualized servers and shared storage built with industry standard components.

Online backup is an important service because it provides an affordable information protection service for small and medium businesses and it’s even useful for enterprises as a means to backup PCs corporate-wide as well as small servers at remote locations. In addition to the $300 million that IBM is spending on its new resiliency centers, late in 2008, it acquired Arsenal Digital Solutions, one of the major players in online backup.

In addition to online backup, recovery services using software-based replication to a cloud infrastructure will also open up new opportunities. These services will provide a much a better recovery time and recovery point than tape-based services but won’t cost nearly as much as custom services based on storage-based replication and dedicated hardware. The cost of these services is more than most small and medium, even some large enterprises can or are willing to pay for. SunGard was the first to announce such a productized service, Forrester expects all the traditional DR service providers to bring similar offerings to market over time.

These cloud-based service offerings are important for several other reasons, first, it could help stem the tide of enterprises who are just so fed up with the traditional disaster recovery services model that they take DR back in house, second, it could convince, more medium size businesses that they can afford more advanced IT continuity solutions and lastly, it will help protect their market against new competitors who can simply partner with cloud providers such as Amazon S3 and Google to offer similar services.

IBM is not only using its expansion and acquisitions to stay competitive, it’s also also hoping that customers will recognize the value of IBM expertise, process and best practices in BC.

What do you think? Does the reputation and expertise of BC and IT Continuity service providers like IBM and SunGard critical in your decision-making or can new players enter the market? Do these lower cost services that offer better RTO and RPO renew your interest in service providers or do you still plan to keep DR in-house?

I welcome your thoughts.