Despite tough economic times, one company is finding that business is still booming, particularly as we are now in 2009’s hurricane season. Ignition, a managed IT services company, has recently stepped up a gear with the opening of its brand new disaster recovery centre for the Caribbean in Curacao, a sensible and cost effective solution for Cayman-based businesses looking for a secure location as part of their disaster recovery plan. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull, reports.
As a multi-jurisdictional organisation, Ignition already spans numerous locations: namely Canada (Halifax), the US (Atlanta), Bermuda, Cayman, the Bahamas and Barbados, providing its clients with a whole host of IT solutions for their day-to-day business activities, from application hosting and managed security to document management and scanning services. Adding Curacao to its list of domiciles provides Caribbean-based organisations with an option to the current Halifax Nova Scotia disaster recovery facility.
Graham Pearson, Ignition’s mnaging drector says the company considered the Cayman Islands as its base for its Caribbean-wide DR base but decided the Curacao location was sufficiently out of the hurricane belt to give peace-of-mind for their clients.
He states: “Although there are excellent disaster recovery services located in Cayman our clients were keen to have a DR base outside the main hurricane path. Curacao was therefore a sensible solution.”
As a managed IT solutions company, Ignition provides hosting services for clients who prefer to outsource such requirements to an outside company, rather than go to the trouble and expense of purchasing expensive hardware and the personnel to maintain it. Ignition clients therefore already get their existing applications, such as their email, Blackberry and telephone systems, managed for them. This is of particular importance when it comes to hurricane season.
“Most firms are fully aware of the need to back up their data as part of their disaster recovery planning, but having a back up for their applications (i.e. the access to the data) is not always considered,” Pearson explains. “We replicate our clients’ applications so that they are able to access their data anywhere in the world. After a disaster such as a hurricane we aim to have our clients back up and running again within four hours. In as sophisticated a business environment as Cayman’s, where the speed of which information is transmitted is key, this is of crucial benefit to our clients.”
Pearson says carefully thinking through a disaster recovery plan and testing the system every three months are both extremely important if the plan is to succeed during a real disaster.
“We find that the larger businesses in Cayman such as the larger law firms and banks already have well-thought out plans when it comes to business continuity; however the smaller to mid range companies ought to seriously consider outsourcing such services. A managed IT system is a good way to go because it takes the pressure off the business managers. All aspects of the IT system become the responsibility of our firm, including ensuring that all software is kept current and up-to-date. The disaster recovery aspect of the service is secure, in-built and automatic, because we host the service for our Caribbean clients from Curacao.”
Complementing the managed IT service is Ignition’s document scanning and file management services, which are two further aspects of the business showing a healthy growth right now.
“Businesses are realising the significant positive impact of getting their filing out of the cabinet and into a digitalised format,” Pearson states. “Originally motivated by a fear of losing precious paperwork (perhaps as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan), businesses are now looking to digitise their paperwork to streamline efficiencies. Our file management systems work in tandem with businesses that have to index and retain documentation so that individuals can easily and quickly access any document they require.”
Ignition can provide teams, led by project managers, to scan a company’s documentation and once documentation is in digital form it can then easily become secured under the company’s disaster recovery plan.
Ignition currently has a team of around 80 engineers spread across its various locations, not only servicing clients in each location but also around 8000 help desk users.
Pearson says: “We employ approximately 40 engineers in our Halifax main technical support centre and our complement of staff in Cayman is now up to around 20 people. We employ a range of technically skilled engineers, from level one technicians with two to three years pc experience all the way to level four technical specialists.”
Level four specialists tend to work on special projects at various locations and are not generally based in one location permanently. Pearson says he is delighted to have recently employed four new technicians to the Cayman office, three of which are Caymanians and one of whom he considers a level three expert, who, he says, will be one such technician who is used for special projects all over the region.