Master in high availability, data center and technology recovery
week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with
Damian Walch, VP of Consulting, T-Systems.
(CISA, CBCP, CISSP) has over 13 years in business continuity,
security and high availability with over 75 companies, with a
specialization in building and "internalizing" recovery programs.
to joining T-Systems, Damian managed the professional services
practice for Comdisco where he provided all facets of services to
companies in banking, service and manufacturing industries. As
Senior VP of Product Management and Development, he was able to see
the economics of hot site providers and was frequently required to
benchmark vendor costs against internal recovery costs. Presently,
he's focused on data center and technology recovery strategies that
are more critical today than ever before
is noted in: “2003 - Consulting Magazine's - Top 25 Consultants of
thank you for sharing your wisdom, knowledge, and valuable
experiences with our audience.
did you get into computing—can you detail your personal history? You
also have many accomplishments—could you share your most valuable
lessons and challenges.
been in the business world for approximately 15 years. I graduated
from Marquette University with a business degree specializing in
finance. After working for a bank for 9 months I realized that I
was not suited to the pace of a commercial bank. I wanted something
a bit faster and innovative. I took a bit of a gamble and went to
work for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in their systems engineer
development program. EDS trained the heck out of me. As a young
professional they gave me every opportunity to learn new things in
both practical and classroom settings. It was very challenging. I
also received my MBA while working for EDS. After EDS I went to
work for Comdisco, at $1.5B leasing company that was starting a
fledgling consulting business. I worked my way up from consultant
to project manager to director to eventually managing a consulting
practice of 230 people. With regards to the most valuable lesson,
there are really two. First, whatever you do…do it with passion,
put your stamp – have an opinion. Second, maintain balance…whatever
that balance is personal and professional, work and fun, brain work
and fitness…balance is critical to achievement.
does your company face its daily challenges and where do you see it
going in two, and five years? Can you share some of your strategies
that would be useful for other companies?
There are many challenges at T-Systems. It is difficult to be a
fledgling regional division in the midst of a massive global
organization. But we address that challenge by focusing on the
“vital few” things that we know we do well and creating a distinct
value proposition for them…letting them guide our service. We focus
on the customer! Let the customer guide our activity. In that same
vain we focus on approximately 20 companies that we currently do
work for. We want to be their strategic partners. We figure that
by word-of-mouth, excellent customer service and business
relationships we will expand our business to other companies.
Please detail the services you provide to organizations?
Computing Services family includes such traditional services as
full-service outsourcing and web hosting, but also server monitoring
and management. The Desktop Services provides services such as
deskside support, break/fix and asset management. We provide a
complete set of lifecycle services. We have a Systems Integration
practice area that focuses primarily in the area of Enterprise
Resource Planning (ERP) software. There is a consulting practice
that provides complimentary services in each of those areas
including server consolidation and business continuity.
the viewpoint of businesses, what are the challenges they are facing
and how will they overcome them? Can you provide predictions of the
business environment in two, and five years?
Obviously the economy is having a dramatic impact on companies. The
press writes on those challenges everyday; however, I think the
economy is having a positive impact on business and technology. The
renewed focus on return on investment and payback will help us in
the future. During the 1990’s we were buying technology for
technology’s sake. Companies are cutting costs, but MOST are trying
to do so by focusing on the business processes that are critical to
creating world-class products, differentiating them in the market
and delivering them to customers. This is the proper focus for
are the main site strategies for disaster recovery/business
continuity, pros and cons of each, trends, and the one(s) you would
really must break disaster recovery/business continuity into a
couple of areas to be explicit with listeners/readers. Disaster
recovery has typically focused on the recovery and availability of
technology and systems that help us run business processes.
Business Continuity has focused on the building of strategies and
plans to maintain the business processes and functions in a
disruption (e.g. power outage). Lastly, the umbrella that captures
both is Crisis Management, or what your management team is doing to
maintain calm and make crucial decisions directly following the
disruption or crisis. The major trend that covers all three areas
is that companies are BEGINNING to be more proactive about those
programs. They understand that they are NOT projects, but programs
that must be maintained. Many companies are utilizing internal
facilities, computing and human resources to manage those programs.
The other major trend is a much needed emphasis on the protection of
data – copying critical files on systems, applications and user
do the different types of technology solutions play a part—can you
describe each, advantages and disadvantages and recommendations you
you get into “technology solutions” for disaster recovery solutions
you really break that down into a couple different areas:
*reactive recovery solutions – if there is an outage the company
would move to another location and recovery via tape on either
dedicated or shared platforms (i.e. commercial recovery providers),
those platforms are typically similar in configuration
*proactive recovery solutions – if there is an outage at the company
they may be mirroring some portions of their data to an alternate
facility, therefore enabling faster recovery because less data has
to be restored from tape
*high availability solutions – in the event of an outage there is an
ability to “fail-over” to an alternate facility or identical
The advantage to the high availability solutions are that a company
can recover more quickly with less potential loss of data in the
event of a disaster. In addition, because these are likely
“dedicated” solutions they are easier to validate and test on a
regular basis. The primary negative is that they are complex and
aspects of IT infrastructure must be considered and what are your
commendations for addressing each one?
Network – must build resiliency into the network and MPLS is a great
Data – ensure data is backed-up and taken offsite regularly.
Storage – ensure compatible SAN and tape equipment in alternate
Server Platforms – utilize “fast start” and “ghost” technologies to
Describe the typical pitfalls and “myths”?
First, is that by spending time and effort on business continuity a
company is pulling attention away from “core competencies” and key
business processes. Secondly, why would a company that makes
widgets, for example, want to create and educate experts in business
continuity or disaster recovery? Third, is that if the production
environment changes often that they would have to invest in
duplicate hardware and software purchase two licenses, etc. In
addition it is very difficult when you refresh major platforms or
servers. Lastly, some storage companies are trying to explain to
companies that they need not two copies of data, but they should
have three or four to be safest. This is completely unreasonable.
are the career prospects for IT professionals in your field?
going to be extremely candid on this question. I think there is a
lot of opportunity for somebody that is good at architecting IT
recovery and availability strategies. There are many, many people
jumping into the disaster recovery field because it is relatively
straightforward and seems to be a growing need. However, we are
getting to a point where there is a large supply of certified
professionals. If an IT professional with good technology
background wants to augment skills by adding DR/BC disciplines – I
think that is a wonderful idea!
are your top recommended resources for more information?
www.drj.com and The Disaster Recovery Journal
www.contingencyplanning.com and Contingency Planning &
www.continuityinsights.com and Continuity Insights
would be difficult to assess however who or what will be the big
winners and losers—you choose the areas to provide this forecast?
Corporation is in a good position to win, but I’m not convinced that
they can organize the resources. Veritas Software also is in a
great position, but I’m not sure they want to provide comprehensive
BC services. Sungard Availability is the big kid on the block and
they have everything to lose. After the acquisitions of Comdisco
and Guardian they have all the resources, but they don’t seem to be
taking advantage of it. IBM BCRS is in a good position to win major
business, but I don’t know if they value it. I think Iron Mountain
and companies like Qwest can play a very important role in data
protection and fail-over.
you see the IT market turning around and when? What will it look
like? How will the structure of IT change within organizations?
I don’t think it is turning…I think it will be another 12 months
before services dramatically turn around. I mentioned early there
will be much more focus on payback and return on investment. Much
more focus on service level management – availability, performance,
capacity, etc. Much more focus on standards like CoBIT and ITIL to
increase efficiency of an IT environment. Eventually utility
computing models will take hold and IT will be sold to end-users as
Q: As a
long-time senior executive, what are your top ten qualities and
processes that make for great leadership?
Wow! That’s a big question…here goes:
Honesty and integrity in all professional business dealings.
Great relationship with your staff members, creating open
Communication of goals and objectives.
Understanding customer needs and objectives – involvement with
speaking and writing skills.
Creativity, problem solving and solution design.
knowledge of financials and metrics.
relationships outside of the company – business partners, etc.
Balance, they can’t work all the time…you must have diversions
Good sense of humor…don’t take yourself too seriously.
drives you to do what you do?
honestly believe there is a distinct need of companies to act more
prudently in the area of business continuity and disaster recovery.
The CEO of a $1B company should be confident that if there is a
crisis or outage, that their employees would be safe, data would be
protected and business processes could start again in a reasonable
amount of time. I don’t believe that most CEOs would say that they
are confident in their capability. I really would like to have an
impact on that.
you provide some insights/predictions about the future of computing
Utility-computing models will begin to make there way into
corporate data centers.
you were doing this interview, what three questions would you ask of
someone in your position?
hasn’t corporate America and global companies done more to decreases
their business and IT risks? Are the risks that businesses are
exposed to increasing? Is it really true that 3 out of 4 companies
that are impacted by a disaster go out of business within 12 months?
you again for sharing your years of success and wealth of knowledge
and experiences with our audience.