E-Guide

Disaster recovery essentials: E-Guide on DR planning and testing strategies

In almost every conversation we have, and on every survey we run, disaster recovery (DR) is consistently

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the No. 1 priority for storage managers. When you think about it, that represents a startling turnaround. Only a few short years ago, disaster recovery was considered something of a luxury item, affordable by only the biggest companies with the fattest budgets. I don't have to run through the list of recent incidents that have put that theory to rest for good.

Today, the issue isn't whether or not you have a disaster recovery plan, but rather to have one that will work when needed. Effective testing and remediation is, of course, a requisite, but it's even more important to match up available technologies with corporate objectives.

The good news is that today there are ample technology choices to employ in a DR plan. But that's the bad news, too, as storage managers are pressed to find the right combination of technologies and processes that will help ensure that their businesses can withstand and recover from an interruption in normal operations.

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Disaster Recovery Essentials(PDF)

Server virtualization is a good example. It offers a level of resiliency for recovering both physical and virtual servers that surpasses most other approaches. But its very flexibility poses a challenge to the storage team, requiring the same lithe response from storage systems in the event of a disaster. And the growing popularity of virtual machines brings along a new crop of recovery tools -- tools storage managers will have to become intimately familiar with.

The high cost of data replication services and the requirement of having a duplicate physical environment at the recovery site were key contributors to the notion that disaster recovery was out of reach for small or midsized firms. But, in addition to price drops, replication products are now available that bridge the gaps between unlike storage systems and allow data to be replicated among different systems.

And as we've all seen when monster storm systems take out huge swaths of geographic regions, it's not enough to ensure that your data is copied somewhere -- you also need to be sure that "somewhere" is out of the path of whatever has brought your primary data center to its knees. Choosing the location of your recovery site might be the most important DR decision you make.

Disaster recovery today is very much a good news/bad news story. The tools are better, but the challenges are greater than ever, especially with the kind of unabated data growth we've seen of late. We created this special guide to help you hone your DR skills, find the gaps in your DR plan and help build an effective testing plan.

--Rich Castagna, Editorial Director of the Storage Media Group


 

 

DISASTER RECOVERY ESSENTIALS: TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • VMware Site Recovery Manager: Automated disaster recovery (DR) shortened downtimes and simplified business continuity are some of the benefits that VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) offers. However, for companies that lack a carefully planned and documented DR plan for their virtual servers, implementing SRM can be tricky
  • Hot or cold disaster recovery site options: Choosing the type of protection you need in the event of a disaster depends on how long your business can sustain being down. Getting applications back in operation quickly can be an arduous process, especially if you don't have a DR process in.
  • Replicating virtual machines: By abstracting away the physical server components and representing everything in logical terms, server virtualization eliminates one of the biggest issues of DR: the need for exactly the same equipment at both sites.
  • Disaster recovery testing tips: Testing the storage portion of your DR plan requires tools to ascertain if data was backed up properly. Proper testing may also require an application to constantly monitor the DR site's storage infrastructure – from the number of disks to the configuration of RAID arrays -- to ensure it matches the storage configuration at your primary site. In addition to periodically testing your disaster recovery site, DR testing tools can constantly monitor the site's readiness to recover from a disaster.

This was first published in September 2009

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