Moody’s recently launched their Vendor Information Risk (VIR) ratings service. The main objective of this service is to reduce the overall burden of conducting risk assessments for organizations, as well as their service providers. The whole idea being that if Moody’s can do a risk assessment on behalf of multiple subscribers, it can make the assessment process a lot more efficient. The service provider will not have to go through multiple assessments and the subscribers will share the cost, and therefore have a much lower price point.
Many CISOs I talk to are sick of performing third party risk assessments; it takes up valuable time, is expensive, and most importantly, pulls resources away from doing actual security work within the company. On the other hand service providers are also having a hard time keeping up with these assessments. A compliance manager at a large service provider estimated that they responded to over 300 audit requests in 2007, and that number would be around 400 in 2008. Thus, a service like this could potentially save millions of dollars for service providers and subscribers.
On May 12th, 2008 VMware announced that nine storage replication vendors have tested and certified their technology with VMware’s long awaited Site Recovery Manager (SRM) offering. SRM is an important step forward in DR (DR) preparedness because it automates the process of restarting virtual machines (VM) at an alternate data center. Of course, your data and your VM configuration files must be present at the alternate site, hence the necessary integration with replication vendors. SRM not only automates the restart of VMs at an alternate data center, it can automate other aspects of DR. For example, it can shutdown other VMs before it recovers others. You can also integrate scripts for other tasks and insert checkpoints where a manual procedure is required. This is useful if you are using the redundant infrastructure at the alternate data center for other workloads such as application development and testing (a very common scenario). When you recover an application to an alternate site, especially if your redundant infrastructure supports other workloads, you have to think about how you will repurpose between secondary and production workloads. You also have to think about the entire ecosystem, such as network and storage settings, not just simply recovering a VM.
Essentially, VMware wants you to replace manual DR runbook with the automated recovery plans in SRM. It might not completely replace your DR runbook but it can automate enough of it. So much so that DR service providers such as SunGard are productizing new service offerings based on SRM.