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A year in which the economics of the travel and hotel industries are so bad that business analysts keep making comparisons to the months immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York is not generally the time most IT people would be comfortable putting together a disaster recovery plan for the first time. Most would be in their offices, sweating over spreadsheets, looking for ways to trim spending a bit more, or push a project to drive down operational costs.
Chad Swartz, senior manager of IT operations at the Preferred Hotel Group, spent most of the year planning disaster recovery and ended up with a big cost-saving strategy for the Chicago-based firm.
Preferred, which specializes in group-travel sales, booking conventions, conferences and corporate outings into its network of luxury hotels, is moving its relatively tiny data center into the cloud.
The company signed up earlier this year for a hosted server-and-software service. Under the plan, the host will supply 10 virtual servers--seven on full-time duty and three in reserve for spikes in demand--each with a pre-configured amount of disk space, memory and processing power, as well as a set amount of bandwidth, Swartz says. Actually, the provider will supply double that eventually; one set for the production environment and an identical one that is physically located in a different data center, as a disaster-recovery hot site.
The service will cost about $16,000 per month for the whole kit-and-kaboodle. That compares favorably to the $210,000 Preferred was going to have to pay to refresh its own aging servers this year, plus $10,000 per month in co-location and bandwidth fees, Swartz says.
"Everyone is checking their budgets now," says Swartz. "If you go to the board, is it an easier sell to say we need to spend $200,000 in capital costs and $10,000 a month? Or just pay a $10,000 implementation cost and $16,000 per month? The cloud environment is going to explode, if just for the cost savings."
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