Vendors supplying you with components or services for your infrastructure need to feel confident about working with your organisation. That way they’ll be motivated to give off their best. It could be argued that stressing a vendor with unannounced tests might have a negative impact on their relationship with you. After all, they have a business to run too and your test is a business disruption for them. However, real disasters often arrive unannounced and in order to be realistic tests should be unannounced too. Is there a way out of this conundrum, and if so what is it?
The key is to set expectations correctly. Ideally, your initial discussions with a potential vendor should include a clear explanation about your expectation to be able to run tests without prior notice. This gives the vendor a chance to accept this condition, decline it, or accept it but with a modification to the contract (possibly the price). When the vendor can integrate this unknown into its own planning and make appropriate allowances, you can run tests to simulate unexpected events accordingly.
But what if your vendor is already supplying you with goods or services? Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes, and it may take a little time for the vendor to manoeuver itself into a position where it feels it can readily respond to such tests. Possible reticence on the vendor’s part may be reduced by suggesting that readiness to accept unannounced tests may also be a good selling point for it to use with other clients too. A vendor ready and willing to participate in spontaneous tests indicates a vendor that is robust and well-organised: two qualities that are prized by many companies looking to place their trust in a supplier to help them with disaster recovery, rather than do everything themselves.