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Virtual Disaster Recovery

18th September 2016
Virtual Disaster Recovery

Increased hardware performance and the requirement to reduce costs and power consumption has led to many companies looking to virtualize their infrastructure.
Gartner reports that as of 2016 the virtualization market has matured with an average of 75% of new deployments being virtual. IT managers are able
to better use resources by migrating over-utilized services to under-utilized hosts.

Whilst this is good for streamlining your infrastructure it requires
a rock solid disaster recovery plan as a single point of hardware failure can cause multiple servers to fail. Traditional backup mediums may not offer
the time critical restoration of integral services or enough granularity to get required datasets online. Larger organizations can afford redundant
storage and multiple host servers but these can be a high expense and out of reach for many SMB’s.

The amount of time it takes to get your organization up and running after a disaster is the key difference between backup and disaster recovery. Restoring
terabytes worth of your organization’s backups can take days, possibly even weeks without a disaster recovery procedure. With documented processes
and disaster recovery preparedness, you could reduce this time to a few hours or maybe even minutes. The problem is that disaster recovery testing
can be quite expensive. Smaller organizations often do not have the resources to properly test their backups, or afford redundant hardware or disaster
recovery services. Backup is only one phase of your overall disaster recovery strategy. And, unfortunately, traditional backups have the potential
to fail. A study done by National Archives & Records Administration in Washington concluded that “93% of companies that lost their data centre
for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.” Without proper testing of your backup set, results can
be devastating for your organization should a disaster occur.

Gartner and Storage magazine, “Companies using antiquated backup methods (such as tapes) found that in over 77% of cases, the data exhibited discrepancies
or failures that could not be fixed, rendering the backup useless.” Additionally, Boston Computing Network Data Loss Statistics state 34% companies
protecting their data to tape do not test their backups.

The core goals of implementing a reliable successful DR plan are speed of recovery, high availability of services, replication of data off-site and data

Backup services need to offer a hybrid on-premise/cloud backup, along with granular restoration for multiple data types or sources and de-duplication to
reduce bandwidth requirements. They will need to support VMware and Microsoft HyperV at the hypervisor level allowing selected virtual machines to
be backed up including their host configuration, system state and datasets. The individual VM’s may need to be restored to the same host or a different
host on the network and allow granular restoration of files within the virtual drives. Replication to private cloud is a must for data security and
disaster recovery as on-premise data may be compromised.

A key area for all future virtualized disaster recovery plans should also be the option of booting virtual machines directly within the private cloud offering
high availability of services and data.

Mark Lambourne

ITB Technical Engineer