Plan B encourages SaaS buyers to do their due diligence on service continuity

Friday 30 September 2016

Plan B Disaster Recovery is attending IP EXPO 2016 to warn companies that cloud based software solutions still need protecting against downtime. A recent hardware failure that left SSP customers without business critical systems for 4 weeks is testament to the risks that are still emerging with IT downtime.


With SaaS (software as a service) adoption increasing, many companies have moved business critical IT systems to the cloud, under the management of a SaaS service provider. Whilst there are great benefits of SaaS - including scalability, financial and resourcing benefits, there are some risks which buyers do not always properly assess, a key one being SaaS availability.

Most SaaS buyers will automatically assume that their business critical systems and data are safe in the hands of a SaaS provider. Data is surely backed up regularly (if not continuously) and if the platform goes down then there will be a DR plan in place. Right? Well, not necessarily – and this is where you, as the buyer need to do your due diligence.

Take the recent instance of SSP who, with regards to their disaster recovery policy, state “Second data centre ensures speedy data recovery. SSP has two data centres, one located in southern England, the second in the midlands. Our disaster recovery options include the ability to copy all your data between the two data centres every fifteen minutes via dedicated high-speed connection. Each data centre acts as a backup for the other, ensuring that if one data centre is unavailable the other can take over” This all sounds great, and may leave you thinking that there is a fully adequate DR plan in place to reassure you that you won’t be without your operational systems for any concerning period of time. In reality however, when SSP experienced a hardware failure at the end of August, customers still didn’t have their systems back working properly at the end of September. Could you imagine 4 weeks of not being able to quote new business or sell insurance policies? The financial impact was proclaimed to be “£000’s a day” by one insurance broker. So why is there this disconnect between the proposed and the actual experience and what can you do to ensure it doesn’t happen to you?

What companies sometimes fail to realise is that it’s the recovery of systems, not just data that takes the time. Building a new platform is not something that normally happens in minutes or hours, it is planned over days, sometimes weeks. SSP states that they have data backed up every 15 minutes and high bandwidth capability of transferring that data to a second site, however what they don’t have is a standby set of systems always-on and ready with the necessary applications loaded and networking configured, ready to host the data. This takes time to build, and means immediate recovery will never be possible.

Then in addition there is the time it took to unpack the backup data and load it onto the new systems– which in this case took well over a week. With such large quantities of data (imagine data from all their customers needing to be unpacked and then uploaded onto the standby system) the data recovery element could, and did take weeks beyond the recovery of the platform itself. If you’re the last person to have their data unpacked, then you’ll have nothing until this process is completed.

So what can you do to ensure you won’t be at the mercy of your SaaS provider should they encounter an IT failure? Plan B’s SaaS availability risk checklist will help guide you on key checks you can make on SaaS providers (whether you are already in a contract with them or not) to mitigate the risk of downtime.

SaaS Escrow services are a key area for SaaS providers to improve upon – all SaaS providers should be offering their customers a robust Escrow plan which will:

  1. Release you from the control of a single provider, so you can’t be held to ransom.
  2. Enable you to have a copy of your data quickly should your provider go bust.
  3. Provide you with your working systems via a third party independent provider should they be unable to deliver the service to you.

If your SaaS provider doesn’t provide a contractual Escrow service, then it’s worth discussing it with them and asking if they can offer this for you.

Plan B Disaster Recovery will be attending IP EXPO Europe on stand DD3 on the 5 and 6 October and will be available to answer your questions on SaaS risk and IT Escrow services. Plan B is a specialist IT Disaster Recovery company that offers immediate recovery of IT systems with zero data loss. Their unique automated testing service certifies customers’ DR services every 24 hours, and enables them to apply a money-back guarantee to recovery time. Plan B also offer Escrow services which are used by SaaS providers to guarantee their customers continuity of service.

For further information, please contact:
Beth Baxter, Marketing Manager
08448 707999

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