In an interaction with Express Computer Michael Wrightson – General Manager, Neverfail Group Software shares how does Neverfail addresses multiple areas of continuous operations and builds and protects the business continuity solutions. Wrightson also explains the unique value proposition Neverfail brings to the Indian market by partnering with Systech
Give us a brief about Neverfail. How it builds and protects the business continuity solutions?
Neverfail has been building continuous availability solutions for over two decades. Our original founders wrote business continuity plans for our customers. They found that there were gaps in what was covered by traditional data protection and clustering technologies. Ironically, today it’s still the same problem. Data protection protects data and clustering technologies are about hardware redundancy. None have addressed the application, operating system, and networking components of mission critical applications. The founders knew this, so they purpose built a product that addresses all major areas of downtime for their customers. In 2000, the first version of what is now Continuity Engine was released.
Today, Neverfail has a solution that focuses on Windows Server recovery. Neverfail only supports Windows, but it has bullet proof failover workflows that addresses many of the causes of downtime.
Our core focus is in the area of Continuous Operations. What are Continuous Operations you may ask? It is the ability to sustain operational integrity (uptime 99.999 percent) and continuity of applications outside of traditional hardware failure and natural disasters. There are other things that cause downtime to our customers which are addressed by Continuity Engine such as patching, ransomware, and datacentre migrations.
Why is application awareness critical to instantly recover mission critical applications?
As I mentioned in the beginning our founders saw there were gaps in what the existing business continuity technologies could provide. The reason they saw this is because the analysed and documented that their customers IT organisations went through from the moment the mission critical server went down to the full restoration of business services including all the human interactions that happened in between. The result was a broader understanding how long it actually takes to recover a business service that has failed in terms of RTO (recovery time objectives). We called this the Anatomy of an Outage. This process has four major steps:
- AWARENESS: This step is identifying what has happened. The server goes down, people call the helpdesk, and a situational analysis happens that determine what happened and who it needs to be escalated. RTO really starts at the moment system goes down.
- RESOLUTION: This step allows those who the problem is escalated to figure out all the dependencies as they come up with a resolution to the problem. RTO continues as the analysis takes place.
- FAILOVER: This step initiates the restore process. We call this the Failover but in reality, it’s really the restoration of business services because any continuity technology could in fact be applied to the application based on its SLA. That said, your still on the clock and RTO is still counting.
- RECOVERY: This is the process of the application coming back to its normal state of operations and then understanding the root cause and how this will be avoided in the future. This is also when RTO finally comes to its completion.
Many IT organisations count RTO from the time they initiate recovery process in the Failover stage using whatever tools they have but in reality, it starts at the exact moment the application goes
down in the Awareness stage. So, time is the biggest threat to any IT organisation. This led our founders to address the time issue with automation to detect application and operating system performance, accessibility related issues along with hardware failures, networking interruptions and some forms of common human errors. This intelligence became what we coined as “TRUE” application awareness because we can use our rules to monitor all major components of mission critical applications to detect when a problem has occurred and then trigger workflows and orchestration that restore normal operating conditions for the application.
∙ How does Neverfail address multiple areas of continuous operations?
Neverfail’s Continuous Operations model starts with traditional high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR). This has always been our core business with a very large OEM’s and world-wide distribution with thousands of resellers. The purpose is to provide “Seamless Continuous Availability” for our customers with full application aware failover.
In recent years we found that many of our customers were experiencing downtime for things that were operational based like patching. In fact, IT organisations typically exclude patching as part of their uptime SLA because they know it causes significant amounts of downtime per year. In addition, the real dirty secret is for many IT organisations, for highly mission critical application, they choose not to patch as frequently as the risk of taking down applications for this type of maintenance can cost the business big money. Think of what it means for a revenue driving application to be offline to patch when its processing orders and taking money. This happens far more than many people think. Neverfail reduces production application downtime to 30-90 seconds on average which can allow many organisations. So, you don’t have to compromise cyber-security for uptime. This is the purpose of “Sustained Operational Uptime” with Continuity Engine.
Ransomware has overtaken the entire world. It’s the IT equivalent of a pandemic. However, unlike Covid-19, there is no vaccine for ransomware. There are mitigations like we did with Covid but many IT organisations will still experience the pain of ransomware. Neverfail’s unique architecture addresses ransomware by providing its customers with an offramp of sorts. Having a clean standby server that you can rollback corrupted data and failover in minutes instead of days or weeks, provides incredible value to our customers. No more do IT organisations have to pay a ransom for data they own. We call this “Effortless Ransomware Recovery” with Continuity Engine.
Finally, Continuity Engine allows for “Transparent Server Migrations”. Nobody wants to move mission critical applications because of the risks involved and nobody wants to be “that guy” who failed a server migration and caused unanticipated downtime. However, due to the way it transitions users with near zero impact to standby servers, Continuity Engine is a great solution to move mission critical application servers between datacentres with zero distance limitations, a 30- 90 outage window and zero loss of data. So, know you can move servers’ premise to cloud, cloud to cloud, geo-consolidate servers to a central location.
∙ What unique value proposition Neverfail brings to the India market?
The mid-tier market has always been our sweet spot. India’s mid-tier market is growing exponentially so there is a huge opportunity for Neverfail in India. These businesses deserve to have enterprise class protection without having to pay hundreds of thousand or millions of dollars for
data protection, technically challenging clustering technologies and complex redundant storage. This is extremely costly, and most can afford it anyways. Even if they can, simple is better! Continuity Engine offers an affordable solution that provides enterprise level protection that can leverage less costly hardware at a substantially reduced cost. For Continuous Availability, there is nothing like it. It’s a unique solution which is in a class all by itself.
∙ What is the story behind partnering with SYSTECH? How did it help you for distribution, in India?
A few years ago, just before Covid, we made a strategic decision to put more effort in building world-wide distribution. Most of our business was OEM based. However, we viewed India as a marketing that has real needs in Continuous Availability, so we started our search for a distributor in India. We eventually connected with SYSTECH and their CEO Jitesh Dave. Jitesh also saw the opportunity and shared our vision for the India market. The major business continuity vendors haven’t focused on reaching the masses especially in the mid-tier. Both organisations felt this was great market for us.
Fast forward a few years, SYSTECH has an amazing team of sales and technical staff. We have been impressed by how fast they have learned how to sell and support a technical product like Continuity Engine. They have pushed this product deep into their channel and the results have tremendous. If you want to work an incredibly professional team of people, I will highly recommend SYSTECH!