Virtualization Is Changing the Way Businesses Handle DR/BC

Carl Weinschenk
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Five Ways to Minimize the Risk of System Downtime

The hurricane season always is a good time to take a look at disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/BC). These twin endeavors are aimed at keeping organizations operational, and if that doesn’t work out, getting them back up and running as quickly as possible.

Recently, virtualization has given DR/BC some new tools and new challenges. Through virtualization, network operators can break functions and collected data into little pieces to be scattered in a variety of places. They also have the ability to reroute and otherwise change networks on the fly.

ComputerWeekly recently discussed the value of virtualization for DR/BC and the players involved in the sector. The case for virtualization was made near the start:

Virtualisation changes everything and increases the number of options. First, data can be easily backed-up as part of an image of a given virtual machine (VM), including application software, local data, settings and memory. Second, there is no need for a physical server rebuild; the VM can be recreated in any other compatible virtual environment. This may be spare in-house capacity or acquired from a third-party cloud service provider. This means most of the costs of redundant systems disappear.

Writer Bob Tarzey also detailed the vendors, which include VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix Xen along with some smaller vendors and service providers.

In a piece posted on Forbes, SungardAS Solutions Architect Donna Cory discusses a topic that is part-and-parcel of virtualization. Cory says that the links between the corporate facility and the outside resources where the backup facilities are located are vital and often overlooked. The idea is that those links may multiply and change more often, thus becoming even more important to DR/BC as these virtualized environments grow.

As with all components of your DR plan, you need to test your external connections regularly. Why? Because in our IT world today, it is very, very easy to add applications, change servers, make adjustments, and otherwise throw your DR plans out of whack. Testing ensures that in a crisis, you won’t have to make one more crisis call to your vendors about your external connectivity.

This week, Brocade offered a disaster recovery platform with the goal of protecting virtualized environments. According to the press release:

Enterprises today face significant challenges from the explosive growth of data and application workload traffic driven by virtualization, which is putting considerable pressure on IT to keep data highly available. According to IDC, disaster recovery requirements have become increasingly stringent for their mission-critical applications, with 84 percent of enterprises having RPOs of less than an hour and 78 percent having RTOs of less than four hours.


The article goes on to explain that users expect data and applications to be ready-to-use 24/7. Any downtime significantly affects the bottom line, so businesses expect near zero downtime from their data centers. Brocade’s new offerings are helping it to provide “continuous application availability” to its customers. Jack Rondoni, VP for storage networking at Brocade, says the company understands the challenges data centers face and it is stepping up to provide technology that maximizes availability:

"By deploying the Brocade 7840 Extension Switch with enhanced Fabric Vision technology, organizations can create better solutions that meet or exceed their requirements and expectations for faster replication and recovery to achieve always-on operations."

The bottom line is that virtualization is bringing big changes to company DR/BC plans. With the importance of data to most businesses, being able to keep data and apps accessible even after a disaster can be the difference between a company surviving an unexpected outage and a company succumbing to a huge profit loss after significant downtime. Virtualization products can help make an enterprise not only resilient, but continuously profitable even when trouble arises.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk

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