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Elliot Markowitz  
VARS Play Vital Role in Preparing for the Next Katrina
By Elliot Markowitz

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.

PointerClick 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 [email protected]



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