10 Criteria to Selecting the Right Enterprise Business Continuity Software – Part 1

The pressures to implement business continuity software that can span the enterprise and recover application servers grow with each passing day. Disasters come in every form and shape from regional disasters (earthquakes, floods, lightning strikes) to terrorist attacks to brown-outs to someone accidently unplugging the wrong server. Adding to the complexity, the number of application servers and virtual machines are on the rise and IT headcounts are flat or shrinking. Despite these real-world situations, companies often still buy business continuity software that is based on centralized or stand-alone computing models that everyone started abandoning over a decade ago.

Distributed computing is now almost universally used for hosting mission critical applications in all companies. However business continuity software that can easily recover and restore data in distributed environments is still based on 10 year old models. This puts businesses in a situation when they end up purchasing business continuity software that can only recover a subset of their application data.

Organizations now need a new set of criteria that accounts for the complexities of distributed systems environments. Today’s business continuity software must be truly enterprise and distributed in its design. In this two-part blog series, I’ll cover 10 features that companies need to look for in business continuity software to ensure it addresses the needs of their environment and how InMage Systems is already taking steps now to ensure their Scout software meets the needs of today’s enterprise distributed environments:

  • Heterogeneous server and storage support. In distributed environments, companies generally have multiple operating systems and storage systems from multiple different hardware vendors. Companies want the flexibility to recover applications running on any of these operating systems and use any storage that they have available to do the recovery to comparable systems at the DR site. Many business continuity solutions require the same configurations (host software, network appliance, storage system) at the production and DR sites. New enterprise business continuity intended for distributed environments should not. In the case of InMage Systems Scout, it already supports Linux and Windows operating systems, is developing support for additional operating systems and works with any storage system.
  • Accounts for differences in performance. A major reason that companies implement specific business continuity solutions for specific applications is due to how they manage high numbers of write I/Os. High performance (i.e. high write I/Os) applications put much different demands on business continuity software than those that protect application servers with infrequent write I/Os. To scale in enterprise distributed environments, the business continuity software needs to provide options to scale under either type of application load. InMage Systems Scout currently provides companies a number of techniques (host-based file replication, host-based volume replication and in storage systems with certain partners) to implement business continuity so the impact of copying the data is not felt on the host.
  • Manages replication over WAN links. Replicating all production data to the target site is great until the network connection becomes congested or breaks. Enterprise business continuity needs to monitor these WAN connections, provide logical starting and stopping points if the connection is interrupted and resume replication without loosing data or negatively impacting the application which it is protecting. InMage Systems Scout CX server appliance manages the replication over WAN links so that no data is lost and the replication can continue uninterrupted.
  • Multiple ways to replicate data. Not every application server needs all of its data replicated. Some application servers need only select files or directories replicated while other application servers need all data on one or more volumes replicated to ensure the recoverability of the system. Enterprise business continuity software should give companies the flexibility to replicate data at whatever layer – block or file – that the application server requires. InMage Systems Scout offers both file and block based options for replicating data that are configurable on a per host basis.

In part 2 of this series, I’ll cover the remaining 6 features that companies need to identify in business continuity software and how InMage Systems Scout addresses these needs.

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