Cloud Comes of Age as B&R Platform

Arthur Cole

Backup and recovery is quickly becoming the most common application on the cloud, and yet many organizations are still relying on cumbersome tape architectures as their primary fallback for the unexpected.

Part of this is due to fear. The notion of placing a complete replica of your entire data environment in someone else's hands requires a great leap of faith. As far as functionality goes, however, cloud-based platforms are proving to be just as effective, but less costly, than on-site tape libraries.

According to tech consultant Kurt Marko, all of the elements for a completely virtualized, cloud-based recovery platform are in place. This "DR 2.0" architecture includes virtualized applications, high-speed WAN connectivity, automated data replication and a wide variety of backup and recovery services populating the cloud ecosphere. But while the pieces are on the table, the challenge remains to fit them together into a cohesive recovery platform. Key tasks in this effort is integration of hypervisor-based and array-based replication systems, as well as development of a configuration engine that can unite multiple virtual workloads and data sets under a single recovery policy.

The true winners in cloud-based disaster recovery will be the SMB market, according to ZDNet's Heather Clancy. Nearly one-third of small businesses are already up on the cloud, primarily because it places backup and recovery tools — once the strict province of the well-heeled — within their grasp. Again, security remains one of the top concerns, particularly if users require restoration of earlier files. It seems few cloud providers offer version control, which means if a file is overwritten it's gone forever.

Still, many of the top DR solutions are providing native support for leading data center platforms, making it easier than ever to get started. VirtualSharp Software, for example, has revamped its ReliableDR system toward public and private cloud architectures through support of VMware's Virtual Infrastructure and Oracle's Pillar Axiom storage systems. The combo provides automated failover and recovery for highly dynamic virtual environments, helping enterprises to not only maintain data integrity and reliability but ensure business compliance and continuity as well.

At the same time, Microsoft and Symantec have teamed up to bring the latter's DR as a service to the Azure cloud. The program entails extension of the Veritas Storage Foundation High Availability for Windows and the Veritas Volume DR software into Azure, providing an off-premises solution that enables rapid data access in case of an emergency. The setup enables all of the Veritas system's tools, such as data/application protection and automated replication to enable continuous operations should there be a main systems failure.

For too long, disaster recovery was kept on the back burner at most enterprises because it was expensive and its value was only proven in the most dire and unlikely circumstances. With luck, most enterprises will never have to stare into the face of oblivion, but at least the cloud is making recovery both affordable and accessible should the unthinkable happen.

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