Computer Disaster Recovery Ltd has now opened its Business Recovery Centre in London (CI No 2,085) and reckons the new site will help it achieve 20% turnover growth year-on-year. In the past, the Birmingham-based Granada Computer Services Ltd subsidiary offered only a mobile disaster recovery service, which provided a customer with enough hardware to keep […]
Computer Disaster Recovery Ltd has now opened its Business Recovery Centre in London (CI No 2,085) and reckons the new site will help it achieve 20% turnover growth year-on-year. In the past, the Birmingham-based Granada Computer Services Ltd subsidiary offered only a mobile disaster recovery service, which provided a customer with enough hardware to keep its business ticking over when trouble struck. But customer demand has now led it to invest a significant amount of money in setting up a warm site, with the intention of providing clients with a place they can operate their business from in face of disaster, literally as if nothing had happened. Finance director Gary Lydiatt, claims that with two hours’ notice, CDR can have any of its equipment up and running and ready for use. The group decided the time was ripe to open the centre for several reasons. Customers are becoming more sophisticated, particularly because information technology is playing an ever more critical role in business, Lydiatt said. And organisations are increasingly using this technology to give them both competitive advantage to increase market share and as a tool to increase profits. This dependence has led to a huge upsurge in demand for disaster recovery services over the past couple of years, Lydiatt said. But the demands being placed on a disaster recovery company are changing too. In the past, the main goal was to look after the data centre if trouble struck. But now, says CDR’s managing director, Fred McFarling, customers don’t just want information and data communications recovery, but also a guarantee of business continuity. A study undertaken by market research company DataPro indicates that 43% of disasters over the past two years were not related to central computer installations. Instead they took their toll on business functions and directly affected an organisation’s ability to meet its customer requirements. Because, McFarling reckons, information technology is fundamentally altering the way in which organisations operate, traditional methods of risk assessment have had to change too. The immediacy of information and business systems means that, while management can insure against financial loss, they cannot mitigate against loss of control, paralysis, or loss of reputation should systems fail. So, the direction of the 1990s is towards analysis, prevention, and recovery of an entire organisations priority business functions. And this is what the new Business Recovery Centre is intended to do.
Wide range of computer hardware
It consists of secure offices with telephones, facsimile machines, on-line services, and computer hardware from eight major vendors – IBM Corp, Digital Equipment Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co, ICL Plc, Wang Laboratories Inc, Compagnie des Machines Bull SA, the now-defunct Prime Computer Inc and Data General Corp. Hot equipment that can be used immediately, at any time, comprises IBM’s AS/400 D80 and Systems 36 and 38; DEC’s VAX 6620; and Hewlett-Packard’s 980/200. The most popular hardware, according to Lydiatt, is IBM, DEC and Hewlett-Packard mid-range systems, although CDR is now starting to cover personal computer networks as well. The most common problem, he added, is hard disks crashing. At the moment, the centre has the capacity to house up to 140 people, but the amount of available office space will be expanded as needs dictate. About seven multinational blue-chip companies have already signed up to take advantage of the new service. CDR was set up in 1981 as one of the first disaster recovery firms in a then embryonic market. It was purchased by Granada Group Plc in 1988, and now has more than 1,000 customers, found mainly in manufacturing, construction and finance – financial services is the group’s single biggest revenue earner. Lydiatt reckons that CDR’s strength lies in its flexibility in terms of the wide range of computer hardware it has to offer its clients. Each year it re-invests about a third of total turnover on new capital equipment because, he says, it always needs to be one step ahea
d of the competition. And the proof of the pudding is in the UKP12m revenues last year, up from about UKP10m in 1991. Profits were around the UKP3.6m mark. A high level of revenues come from upgrades and repeat business on contracts that generally last between three and five years – long-term contracts are easier to plan, Lydiatt said. The company also has an operations centre in Brussels, which serves continental Europe from Sweden down to Portugal. Although at the moment, staff at the centre simply look after the logistics involved in operating the various mobile units, CDR does plan to open a hot site there too. The firm has a three-year expansion plan for both the UK, where it plans three or four more hot and warm sites around the country, and Europe. Lydiatt sees Holland as the most interesting continental market, as CDR already generates significant business there, followed by France, where a site would depend on demand. – Catherine Everett