Disaster recovery is rarely out of the news cycle for very long, given the steady stream of calamities, natural or otherwise, that befall the data ecosystem. So it’s surprising that so many organizations are still deficient when it comes to ensuring continuity during extreme circumstances.
According to the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council (DRP), a stunning 72 percent of recently surveyed enterprises were given either a D or an F for their DR capabilities, with more than a third reporting the loss of critical data, apps or virtual machines for more than an hour. With experts estimating the average cost of downtime at about $5,000 per minute, many organizations are playing with fire when it comes to the reliability of their data environments.
One of the chief recommendations in the DRP report is the increased use of automation, which has traditionally been implemented on the backup side of the DR process. Lately, however, we’ve seen a number of solutions that automate the recovery side as well, particularly in reconnecting users with cloud-based resources.
A case in point is FalconStor’s new RecoverTrac module, recently integrated into the Continuous Data Protector (CDP) and Network Storage Server (NSS) platforms. The system provides intelligent storage, protection and analysis of data sets, along with automated failover and failback tools for physical, virtual and hybrid environments. The goal is to not only speed up the recovery process and restore data environments with greater accuracy, but to do so with minimal impact on production environments. To that end, RecoverTrac employs tools like the stretch cluster configurator that enhances availability across metro cluster configurations, and new storage virtualization capabilities that offload read, write, cloning and other processes from the CPU to the storage device. The system supports Windows 2012 storage management and vSphere 5.5.
Although some enterprise managers may balk at entrusting such a critical function as disaster recovery to automation, FalconStor’s Ralph Wynn argues that many of the perpetual myths about the process simply aren’t true. For example, contrary to popular opinion, automated DR can be customized to complex, hybrid environments, and it can be set up to provide full testing of end-to-end recovery procedures. As well, automated DR that is integrated directly to disk-based continuous data protection (CDP) and snapshot technologies can, in fact, provide full recovery without relying on multiple sources or slower restoration applications.
Speedy recovery is often a function of high availability of backed-up data volumes, and in this way automation on the backup end does enhanced the recovery process. Alliance Storage Technologies’ Archive Management Software (AMS) system not only eliminates time-consuming and error-prone manual processes but provides for quicker failover and recovery times for critical data archives. The system utilizes geographically dispersed copying techniques, file and metadata replication and real-time change tracking to essentially enable the backup volumes to become primary in the event of an outage. At the same time, the company says it can lower both DR and compliance costs by streamlining archival infrastructure.
None of this is possible, however, without a change of attitude in the front office about the importance of recovery and continuity of business operations. With most business plans these days hinging upon the health of the data environment, it seems odd that so few organizations have invested both the time and money to build more robust DR programs.
Automation can help take some of the financial pain out of the process, but it will still require a proactive agenda to ensure the enterprise can weather any coming storms.