Natural Disasters Raise IT Recovery Concerns

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The Cost of Downtime

Study finds a lot of IT downtime is still plaguing end users.

With all the news about natural disasters as of late, a lot of IT organizations are sitting uneasy. In fact, a new survey of 2,000 IT executives that was conducted on behalf of CA Technologies finds that one-third of them don't have a disaster recovery strategy in place.

Of course, whether the remainder has actually tested their disaster recovery plans remains doubtful. But the one thing that is for certain is that backup and recovery are getting much simpler thanks to virtualization and cloud computing, says Steve Fairbanks, vice president of product management for the ARCserve products at CA Technologies.

Unfortunately, prior to the advent of virtualization and cloud computing, Fairbanks concedes that backup and recovery were pretty much in a broken state. While disk-based backup improved things, a lot of companies simply have not caught up with changes in the fundamental technologies being used to make backup and recovery a much simpler undertaking.

In fact, Fairbanks says one of the reasons that CA Technologies recently allied itself with Microsoft to deliver backup and recovery software-as-a-service on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform is because many customers simply need a more cost-effective approach. Most companies, he notes, can't afford all the duplicate hardware associated with earlier approaches to disaster recovery. Now it's a lot easier to rely on a cloud computing service that makes it a lot easier to recover data and access mission-critical applications.

However, while technology is becoming less of an issue, the simple fact is that there is a lot of inertia to overcome when it comes to disaster recovery. Most IT organizations are running flat out these days so it's difficult to put a contingency plan in place when all hands are needed on deck every day. Nevertheless, disasters both natural and otherwise loom day and night, so just remember that old adage about an ounce of IT prevention.

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May 26, 2011 3:27 AM Jeremy Trask Jeremy Trask  says:

While it's true that the cloud and VMs have made backing up data and server images easier it's still not a simple task to prepare for a true disaster recovery scenario, such as a natural disaster.  The cloud is meaningless if all of your systems are hosted in a single data center (vulnerable to power outages, local network failures, viruses, etc.), and VMs are easy to backup (either offline or realtime) but you better be storing these backups in a separate location.  Furthermore, you must have a plan in place to bring your backup systems online in a manner that allows the backup infrastructure to automatically locate and recognize the other systems or else applications that rely on communicating with other networked systems (aka, a database) will fail until a human operator manually corrects the configuration.  Testing the failover process is a must as well.  A failover in the event of a real disaster is an extremely stressful situation.  When the involved parties have practiced and drilled in a failover routine the minimization of downtime will be significant.


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