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Modern DR for budget-minded businesses

James Brissenden | Feb. 13, 2013
Disaster recovery planning and design are necessary activities that if overlooked, will place companies in a very uncomfortable position.

Unbalanced state

By not addressing its need to align risk and cost with business needs, a company's DR capability will eventually evolve into an unbalanced state. It may end up with a few applications using replication, while the majority of applications will default to tape-based backup because it is just too expensive to justify replication across the entire production environment. The large divide between replication based DR and the lack of scalability of tape-based recovery, provides a breeding ground for one-off point solutions and departmental work-arounds.

In this unbalanced state, it is nearly impossible to ensure that reliable recovery from a disaster is achievable. With a mix of sanctioned and unsanctioned DR technologies, the complexity of recovering increases dramatically. The result will be an unpredictable recovery capability at best, and data loss in the event of a disaster at worst.

Advancements in network optimisation, data compression, and data deduplication enable IT departments to build affordable alternatives to expensive replication schemes while providing large improvements in RTO and RPO over tape-based disaster recovery. The ultimate goal for nearly any business is to build a recovery service catalog with mid-tier options to scale with changing business needs.

Building a solid tiered Disaster Recovery catalog organically is challenging for most organisations. Successful companies embrace a multi-tiered catalog of recovery technologies connected by a unified management platform. This approach enables IT departments to continuously balance cost versus risk and protect data accordingly.

The primary benefit of building a Recovery Service Catalog is that the middle recovery tiers can scale up or down for better cost and capacity alignment. The key enabler of elasticity is the management platform used across recovery tiers. The management platform must unify the tiers, or much of the value of tiering is lost. Islands of disparate technology become an operational obstacle to maintaining and managing DR. This operational efficiency is typically where large cost savings are realised. In order to create more operational efficiency, companies need a robust data management platform that unifies as many recovery tiers as possible.

Ultimate goal

The ultimate goal is to have the flexibility to move existing applications and their associated data between tiers of recovery, through a common interface and single point of data protection policy management, as business needs for recovery change. This management layer should also allow you to automate DR management tasks, track and report on recoverability, and build comprehensive DR test workflows to further drive down operational costs. Many traditional management tools today do not provide that flexibility to change with business needs. Unfortunately, they deliver a fragmented solution and tend to foster a silo-ed DR environment.

It is imperative that DR business needs are re-evaluated regularly so that tiers and resources can be adjusted to maintain business alignment. An appropriate, unified management platform facilitates re-alignment by providing visibility across the data protection environment, as well as seamless movement of your application data between recovery tiers.


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