Posted by Matt Register

Louis Marascio, CEO of Trometis, talks about the IT side of business and how both disaster recovery and business continuity plans need to be in place.

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.


Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com is the web site. We’re talking about recovering from hurricane Harvey. Which is going to take a significant amount of time for everybody but we have some resources on here that may make that a little bit easier. We’re talking about I.T. this segment. And I.T. has become so important to everybody’s business, that getting back up and running, you know, if you have done it correctly, you’re back up and running instantly. If you haven’t, you may have a problem. So, I’m your host Matt Register, here as always with Jay Curry. Jay what do you think?

Jay Curry: Well, this is always a fun time for IT people. You know, I made my career in that area and it can be so, you know, impactful. If you’re still recovering, continue that. But if you’re up and running or you managed to survive this, you need to take time to look at your risk. Listen to Louis, evaluate where you are. Because I can tell you, if you didn’t get hit, doesn’t mean you’re okay, you still need to assess. If you did get hit, I mean this, this is going to be for years for us to get out of this.

Matt Register: Yeah. No doubt. Louis Marascio is the CEO of Trometis. Which is an I.T. services company here in Houston. Louis welcome to the show.

Louis Marascio: That’s right. Thank you for having me.

Matt Register: So, talk to me a little bit about disaster recovery from, from an I.T. perspective.

Louis Marascio: Sure. Well, you know disaster recovery and business continuity, you know, they’re, they sort of go hand in glove.

Matt Register: Sure.

Louis Marascio: You can’t have one without the other. Disaster recovery, it’s the everyday blocking and tackling. Right? Are you doing your backups, are you testing your backups, are your backups moving offsite. Can you spin up from those backups? Because a disaster could be a hurricane or could be a tree or it could be a cup of coffee. Right?

Jay Curry: Your right.

Matt Register: Sure.

Louis Marascio: You never know what kind of disaster is going to be. And you can’t have business continuity, unless you’ve got disaster recovery. But likewise with business continuity, you have to decide as a business, how do I want to operate if my employees can’t come to the office? How do I want to operate if my servers are broken? Every business is different. But you have to plan that out and you have to test it. And those two things go hand in glove and you have to, to do the basics before you do the complicated stuff.

Matt Register: We were talking during the break and correct me if I get this wrong. Right? But, you know, bottom line is best business practice dictates that you have regular backups, their offsite, their… If you were doing those things correctly, then recovery from this disaster is instantaneous, you know, near instantaneous and relatively easy. Correct?

Louis Marascio: Well. So, let’s, let’s differentiate just real quick. You’re exactly right about backups.

Jay Curry: Yeah. But I don’t go to the same conclusion you would.

Louis Marascio: You want, you want backups to be consistent and you want them to be tested and you want them to be both on site and off site. But recovering from a disaster is different than operating during a disaster.

Matt Register: Okay.

Louis Marascio: In other words business continuity. Business continuity implies, I have a business, I can’t access it because the streets are flooded. How do I operate my business from a second location, from home etc.? And so you may be able to recover from a disaster with just backups and good processes. But to actually go to step further and be able to operate during a disaster, you need to plan for that as well. That’s why I say these are two, you know, it’s a left hand, right hand thing, that they operate together. But if you, you can’t start with business continuity, you have to start with the day to day disaster recovery.

Matt Register: Sure.

Louis Marascio: You have to start with; are my backups good, are they working? When was the last time you tested your backups? And did you actually test them or did you just sort of say, it looks like it worked. Right. Because unfortunately most people don’t realize their backups aren’t working until they need them.

Matt Register: Well, typically what happens is, is in a, in a small to midsize business, nobody has time, there’s nobody dedicated to…

Louis Marascio: That’s right.

Matt Register: Identify that these things are continually running. They check and they make sure their stuff is backing up and it may have been a year since last time they checked it out.

Louis Marascio: That’s right. Yeah.

Matt Register: You guys provide that service for the businesses you partner with. Correct?

Louis Marascio: Right and that’s, that’s the key thing is, this is sort of like, you know, hoeing a row. You have to sort of do it, you’ve got to keep the weeds out. And every day, every week, every month, there’s something to do on the IT front that small, medium business typically is not doing. They do point in time, focused I.T. work and then they let it sort of degrade and then they do it again and they let it degrade. What we do is we become your I.T. partner, we run your I.T. department from CIO level down to the day to day.

Matt Register: Yeah.

Louis Marascio: And it’s stuff like this, that is our bread and butter. So, for example backups, our backups are tested regularly. We take the image, we boot them up automatically and we keep them both onsite, offsite. We know if, if a customer has a problem, we can restore that customer’s server with minimal to no data loss.

Matt Register: I think what people are going to find in, in Houston is that, that business continuity and disaster recovery, this is a disaster that’s not a point in time, it’s a period of time. Right?

Louis Marascio: That’s right.

Matt Register: It’s going to take, perhaps months of operating off site.

Louis Marascio: That’s right.

Matt Register: Of operating in a non optimum environment. Right?

Louis Marascio: Yeah.

Matt Register: And they’re going to find that, that either they planned correctly and this is very easy or it’s not. Right?

Louis Marascio: That’s right. Yeah. I mean, you know, we’ve been talking about sort of backups and disaster recovery. And, and now if you flip over to business continuity, you know…

Jay Curry: It’s a big difference.

Louis Marascio: It’s a big difference. But, you know, what do you do if your office is dependent upon a paper based business process? Where you’ve got to print a form out in triplicate and hand it to three different people. If your people can’t come to the office, they can’t function. Even though, even if they have VPN access and all that great stuff. So your servers can be completely backed up but your business can’t work. And so, when you think about business continuity, you have to think about the business processes. And you have to design your business continuity plan on top of your disaster recovery plan, such that the portion of your business that you want to function when things are really bad can do so. And that will require both technical, as well as business decisions. So you might say “Hey, that paper based process, it works great. But if we made it an automated workflow with an online system, then we wouldn’t have this physical dependency. And since it’s the most important business process in our company, now we can function if everybody is off site at home working because they can’t get to the office because it’s flooded”. And just like disaster recovery, you have to test your business continuity plan. And very large companies learn this the hard way.

Matt Register: Well I think everybody learned this the hard way in Houston. Right?

Louis Marascio: Well now, now everybody in Houston gets to learn it the hard way too. Because the global financial services companies, after September 11th, really took business continuity to your heart. Because they realized that you might have a situation where your employees can’t come to the office for three months. And so you’ll, you see this, this planning happening at these very wealthy, high profile companies. But now the 30, 40, 50 person manufacturing company realizes, I’ve got to do this too.

Matt Register: Yeah.

Louis Marascio: Because these things do happen and it doesn’t have to be a horrible, painful process. But it can feel that way if you don’t have a partner there with you, who can help out.

Jay Curry: So I’ve seen, I’ve done hundreds of certified business continuity planning but people, I don’t think they get the difference. Let me give you an example, I had a company that was about a 40 million dollar company, manufacturing company and they had disaster recovery down pat. Their plan was the I.T. guy went into the shop, picked up the computer, rolled it onto a rented truck and took it out. But what they found out, when the, when the hurricane hit, this was o8′, is that there are people are scattered. So, even though they’ve got it, they can’t operate, that they have no plan. So, the concept of having a plan for your people when, where, where they need to be. How, how do you take care of their family because they’re not going to go up there, you know, leave their family. It’s a, it’s another level, much higher and it’s key, it’s important.

Louis Marascio: It absolutely is. I mean, disaster recovery is very much, almost a technology led problem.

Jay Curry: Exactly.

Louis Marascio: Business continuity is very much a business process and a people led problem. It starts with understanding how does your business function and then technology comes around it, where need be. But those two things have to go hand in hand.

Jay Curry: You have to have them both. You guys are good at it.

Matt Register: I tell you what, if you’re a business owner and your server is underwater and that’s all you have, you may have just learned a very expensive lesson. We’re talking to Louis Marascio who’s the CEO of Trometis, out of Houston, an I.T. services company. Lewis thank you very much for joining us.

Louis Marascio: Thank you. And I just want to let everybody know, if you come onto our web site, fill out our contact form. We’ll be happy to come out and do a free assessment and have a discussion with you about this and other problems related to I.T and get you lined out.

Jay Curry: Well, that worth your time. If you, if you got past this but you got scared, you need to give Louis a call. He’ll come out and assess it for you.

Louis Marascio: That’s right.

Jay Curry: You can think of the future.

Matt Register: Yeah. No doubt. Trometis.com is the web site. We’re going to have it linked right there from Texasbusinessradio.com. If you’re taking, driving and can’t take notes, Trometis.com is the web site. We do have to take a break. We’re out of time. We’ll be back with more hurricane Harvey recovery, right after this.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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