a “hybrid” cloud made up of its own virtualized hardware at colocation facilities in
Chicago, Frankfurt and Singapore.
And rather than paying for dedicated recovery hardware that sits around
waiting for a disaster, it uses virtualization
to shift workloads from a failed server
to one running a less critical workload.
“We’re always using that architecture for
something,” says Leone.
More and more IT shops are using
technologies such as virtualization and
replication to make disaster recovery just
another service, sometimes using the same
servers, network and storage that run
order entry, email, application development or other services. This merges what
historically were disaster recovery and
business continuity efforts, protecting the business against not
only rare disasters, but also human error or equipment failures.
Some store only data (and perhaps templates for virtual ma-
chines) off-site, creating (and paying for) the physical hardware
to run them only when needed. “We can recover at our remote
site much, much faster by just being able to fire up the system
images of the VMs,” says Justin Bell, systems administrator at
Strand Associates, an engineering firm in Madison, Wis. Even if
the server infrastructure at that site is less robust than the one at
the primary site, “we could run in limited capacity, on much less
Other organizations have done away with dedicated disaster
recovery systems. They shift production work to test or develop-
ment servers during outages and defer work that’s less critical.
[Almost] any old box . . . will handle the
prescribed load, and it’ll be good enough
to recover some VMs onto.”
Disaster recovery is also being trans-
formed by fast, easy-to-use replication
software that copies data between primary
and recovery sites in near real time. One
such offering, Double-Take software from
Vision Solutions, allows users to sync
data among servers and establish failover
protection in about 20 minutes, says
Joseph Pedano, senior vice president for
data engineering at Evolve IP, a provider of
cloud-based IT services in Wayne, Pa.
Martin Mazor, Ingram Micro’s director
of global information assurance, wouldn’t
discuss which products he uses, but he says
replication allows his company to recover
systems much more quickly than the full day it would take to ship
tape offsite. Ingram Micro has also invested in tools that provide a
single performance dashboard for all of its worldwide operations,
and it has offered employees training in areas such as operational
management and the handling of incidents and problems.
Evolve IP uses VMware virtualization technology, and Pedano
says backup and recovery tools now feature improved VMware
integration, making it easier to replicate and restore not just
servers, but also their associated databases and security systems.
To successfully restore a business service such as email or
order entry, IT must recover the application server as well as
associated components (such as an Active Directory server that
contains user information or a database that holds inventory
records), and it must do so in the proper order. Taking these
dependencies into account is a major area of focus for vendors.
Continued on page 24
We can recover at
our remote site much,
much faster by
just being able to
fire up the system
images of the VMs.
JUSTIN BELL, sys Tems adminis TraTor,
s Trand associaTes
More Demands, More Risk
These changes are driven by ongoing pressure to cut costs while
maintaining continual uptime, and by the flexibility provided by
server, storage and network virtualization. Meanwhile, a recent
spate of natural disasters, along with stricter regulatory requirements, has made disaster recovery the No. 1 subject of client inquiries at research firm Gartner, says analyst John Morency.
However, Forrester Research reports that enterprise
disaster recovery/business continuity budgets are stuck at 6% of
total IT capital and operating budgets and that concerns such as
“consolidation, business intelligence and virtualization” are given
higher priority when it comes to spending.
Meanwhile, the list of critical services that need protection
keeps growing, with communication tools such as voice over IP
and email gaining “critical” status alongside traditional business applications like order entry and ERP. Finally, it’s necessary
to ensure uptime not only after major disasters, but also in the
event of localized failures, and many companies need the ability
to quickly recover just one file rather than an entire system.
By separating virtual servers, networks and storage capacity
from physical hardware, virtualization gives users many more
choices in disaster recovery strategies. “When you recover a
[virtual machine], it doesn’t matter where we put it,” says Kurtis
Berger, IT manager at Provider Advantage NW, a healthcare
software and services company in Beaverton, Ore. “At each of
our data centers, all of our VM servers are pretty much the same.
In the Cloud
n Start with applications that already
perform well in virtual or private cloud environments but don’t support your most critical
systems. This gives you time to try different approaches and vendors.
n Be realistic about SLAs, and know that
most cloud providers won’t take responsibility
for your losses if you can’t recover after a failure.
n Understand the interdependencies among
the applications and services you host in the
cloud and those you host in a traditional data
center so you properly test recovery.
SOURCE: FORRESTER RESEARCH