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The Three Technologies That Are Turning Disasters into Non-Events from an IT Perspective

The storm season is once again upon us and it looks like it will be another one for the record books as evidenced by the tornadoes that have already hit Oklahoma and many other states. In fact, if you live in the Midwest and particularly in eastern and southeastern Nebraska, this picture probably has an all too familiar look to it. In this particular case, it’s time to batten down the hatches and get ready for a rough ride.

radarnebraska.JPGSource: KETV Omaha

The Midwest is not the only part of the country dealing with weather like this. Tropical Storm Andrea has already hit the state of Florida afterwards moving up the US coast causing flooding and damage throughout.

radarSEUS.JPGUnfortunately, this storm could be just the first of many for states on the east coast. The National Weather Service predicts that the 2013 hurricane season could be particularly active with up to 20 named storms this year.

As these minor and major disasters hit, the questions that IT staff in organizations need to be prepared to answer have altered drastically over the last few years. Questions like “Can you recover our data?” and “How quickly can you do it?” still exist. However IT staff must also be prepared to field questions like “How long will it take us to failover?” and “Can we experience uninterrupted uptime even as the storm hits?

Providing the right answer to these questions calls for continuous, 24×7 availability of all applications and data in all conditions regardless of any external threat that may be occurring. As such, organizations need to ensure their business continuity (BC) and high availability (HA) processes are in lock step with one another as they relate to supporting the overall business.
To do so they must be aligned with existing business processes and procedures. Enterprises likely employ a number of BC and HA technologies such as snapshots, clones, backups, and synchronous and asynchronous replication to keep their business online should their primary data become corrupted and un-useable and they need a fast local or remote recovery.

Working in IT’s favor in terms of delivering on these requirements is three technologies that make it simpler and more affordable than ever for businesses to realize these ideals.

  • Virtualization. Using virtualization almost any application regardless of its importance to the organization can be configured well protected and highly available. Virtualization eliminates the need to try and prioritize / identify which are the “most important” business applications. Virtualization’s economics and practicality coupled with its maturity enable organizations to virtualize all applications from web and file servers to mission critical applications.
  • Computing hardware. Hardware’s costs drop yearly that is helping to bring HA and BC within reach of almost any size organization. Yet even as hardware’s costs drop, it continues to grow more powerful. This gives organizations the flexibility to virtualize existing and new applications on less hardware and then use the savings to invest in BC and HA..
  • Mature software. Two types of software are needed to take BC and HA the final mile.
  • Backup Software.  Creating a practical, manageable BC environments requires eliminating the weeks and months of planning so that recovery is a “check the box” event. Using Symantec NetBackup and features such NetBackup Accelerator reducing backup times from hours to minutes, NetBackup AIR (for backup image replication), VM Intelligent Policy (VIP) for automatic detection and protection of VM’s and V-Ray technology that scans and analyzes the backup environment for signs of weakness in the backup process, organizations can more easily and quickly make BC a reality.
  • High Availability.  Recovery is great but every IT person I know prefers staying online all of the time so they never have to do a recovery. Using Symantec Storage Foundation and Cluster Server, organizations can create a highly available environment for both physical and virtual systems across heterogeneous operating systems. Using these products, organizations can non-disruptively do physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-physical (V2P) failovers and failbacks. Then using its Fire Drill feature they can run recovery simulations so there is a high level of confidence that their applications (virtual or physical) will failover, failback and be functional regardless of where they reside.

If you are watching real time radar showing a monstrous storm approaching your data center facility and you do not yet have BC and HA plan in place, all you can do at this point is cross your fingers, offer up a little prayer and hope that you are spared. However if blue skies are still in your forecast and have no BC or DR plan or only a partial one in place, the technologies available for affordably putting a fully functional one in place is better than ever.

BC and HA no longer have to be an either/or choice. Using a combination of virtualization, economical and powerful computing hardware and the Symantec suite of BC and HA software, organizations can watch weather events such as are pictured above with relative peace of mind knowing that they are non-events from a data availability and recoverability perspective.


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