Recovery Point Provides Another Option for Full-Service DR
October 21, 2020 Alex Woodie
When it comes to full-service disaster recovery firms, most IBM i shops are aware of IBM Business Continuity and Recovery Services (BCRS) and Sungard, the two giants of the space. But there’s a third, slightly smaller option that nevertheless should be on their list: Recovery Point Systems of Germantown, Maryland.
Recovery Point was formed nearly four decades ago to serve the document storage needs of businesses and organizations near the nation’s capital. As tape storage took off, the company evolved its business plan and served as secure repository for tape storage, sort of a regional Iron Mountain.
Today, Recovery Point specializes in providing full-service, standby DR capabilities for enterprises running critical applications on IBM systems. IBM i and System z are its specialties, but it also provides standby capability for smattering of older Unix systems, as well as the obligatory Linux and Windows servers that inevitably surround proprietary Big Iron and Unix systems.
With millions of CPWs and MIPS spread across its two fully owned data centers — one in Germantown and another Gaithersburg, Maryland — Recovery Point keeps systems warm and ready to take over transaction processing in the event that its customers in finance, healthcare, insurance, or retail suffer an outage and need a place to run critical business workloads.
Like Sungard AS and IBM BCRS, Recovery Point also maintains thousands of square feet of office workspace for its clients to work in as they’re getting back on their fee after a disaster. And in January, the company astutely launched a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offering, just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring economic lockdown that would put the kibosh on travel to the company’s locations.
Never heard of the company? It’s not surprising, says Robert Hicks, the company’s chief operating officer. “We’re a really well-kept, three-decade secret,” he says.
It may not be a household name in the IBM i world, but Recovery Point is on one company’s radar: Gartner.
In June, the Connecticut analyst firm listed Recovery Point in its 2020 Mark Guide for DR as a service, or DRaaS. According to Hicks, Gartner puts Recovery Point in the same category as Sungard AS and IBM BCRS as the only full-service DRaaS providers that can meet complex IT needs of big companies running mainframe and IBM i servers.
There are plenty of other DRaaS providers. “There’s a DRaaS provider on every other corner, almost like a McDonald’s now,” Hicks says. “But you thin the herd extremely quickly when you add iSeries and z mainframes, and even some of older systems, like Solaris and HP-UX.”
None those other DRaaS providers actually invest in the IBM i and mainframe systems, as Recovery Point and its two larger competitors do, Hicks says. That puts them on a different plane, which is what Gartner acknowledges in its report.
“Some of them claim to do it, but they’re actually subbing it out,” Hicks tells IT Jungle. “When you weed out the marketing spin of the people who are subbing it to somebody else, which Gartner has done, you’re back to the three of us — IBM, Sungard, and Recovery Point.”
Recovery Point has invested a substantial amount of money into building its own data centers, equipping them with enterprise servers from IBM, and hiring the technical staff to work them. Its Germantown and Gaithersburg data centers are tier-three certified by the Uptime Institute, which is the highest rating available.
“The people who deliver our services work for us. We don’t sub it out. We own and operate the building. We own and operate the equipment,” Hicks says. “It’s a capital-intense business, not for the lighthearted, and the barrier is very high because of that.”
Recovery Point also has long-term leases on 1,500 miles of dark fiber around in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area, which it lights with its own optical equipment, thereby providing a large amount of reliable bandwidth for clients, Hicks says.
“If the [client’s network] carrier is in North America, they’re going to end up in a Equinix site in a cross-connect type scenario,” he says. “That enables us to bring large data pipes back to our building to facilitate this data movement in a very competitive price point.”
While it can’t compete with Sungard AS and IBM BCRS on the very largest IBM i and mainframe shops, the company does quite well serving the DR needs for most medium to large businesses. But compared to those giants, Recovery Point is nimbler and can usually undercut them on price while delivering a more flexible solution.
“Those who are already in the IBM or Sungard world, if they’ve been in those worlds a long time, they’re probably paying more than they should,” he says. “That gives us a real opportunity.”
Sungard AS and IBM also tend to be inflexible in their offerings. It’s like Henry Ford’s old mantra: You can get your new car in any color you want, as long as it’s black, Hicks says. By contrast, Recovery Point is a custom solution shop.
“We look at the entire footprint,” he says. “We look at the business needs and we create a solution that fits the model of what the client needs. So we’re cost-competitive, solution competitive, with flexible terms and conditions. That has really led to a tremendous amount of growth over the years.”