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San Francisco real estate firm picks Neverfail for disaster recovery

Stockbridge Real Estate funds uses Microsoft's clustering for high availability, and added Neverfail when looking for offsite disaster recovery.

The decision to set up a disaster recovery (DR) site for Stockbridge Real Estate Funds was simple enough, given the firm's main office is in a San Francisco high-rise building. Finding a solution that worked within its current environment and budget was the tricky part.

The commercial real estate investment firm outsources its IT to BayNode Technology Consulting, and BayNode president Cem Kursunoglu oversaw Stockbridge's high-availability and disaster recovery initiatives.

Stockbridge installed Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering (WSFC) for its critical file servers and Exchange 2007 Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) for its email system last July -- all connected to an IBM DS3400 SAN. The clustering and replication was good for high availability within the San Francisco office, but the Microsoft products require third-party replication between sites for DR.

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"Needless to say, this is an earthquake area, and they are on the 33rd floor of a high rise," Kursunoglu said. "They had Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft clustering for failover. Beyond that, they didn't have data replicated to an offsite location."

Kursunoglu went looking for a way to replicate data to a disaster recovery site 65 miles north in Santa Rosa. He says there weren't many options that supported Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering and Cluster Continuous Replication, and were cost effective. He said he looked at two vendors, but only Neverfail ClusterProtector had the support Kursunoglu wanted.

"Double-Take didn't have anything ready," he said. "They offered some workarounds, but didn't have the solution we wanted. Neverfail monitors the cluster; if both nodes fail, then the remote site takes over the process and will present itself to the network as if it is the cluster with the same name and shared resource structure. It will replicate data constantly."

Stockbridge hasn't had any full-blown disasters since implementing Neverfail, but tested before buying and four times since then. "Basically, we got instantaneous restores," he said. "Neverfail's difference is they're automated and have really quick failover."

Kursunoglu said the Neverfail product is for disasters, not server outages. "We don't use the remote site unless we have a disaster," he said. "The link between the disaster and main office is not that large, only two megabits, and it's only intended for Microsoft. Neverfail's not a failover solution for business continuity. We use Microsoft for that."

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