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The cloud stood at the forefront of disaster recovery trends in 2014, as cloud DR became a constant theme in the news. The year was dominated by new and upgraded cloud DR offerings from established vendors and startups.
DR in the cloud
VMware and IBM showed that big vendors are also chasing cloud DR when they made moves in April. VMware added disaster recovery to its vCloud Hybrid Service and IBM added its Virtual Server Recovery DR service to its SoftLayer cloud.
Zerto picked up $26 million in venture funding in June, and used that money to accelerate development its Cloud Fabric technology, which moves virtualized workloads between cloud providers. In August, Zerto added Cloud Fabric features for mobilizing virtualized workloads, plus support for Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor and cloud-based replication to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Unitrends kept busy in 2014, rolling out a DR service in July that combined its physical and virtual backup technology with DR testing technology that it picked up when it acquired PHD Virtual in 2013. The hybrid disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is built on the Unitrends No Limits Cloud service that continuously replicates locally backed up data into the cloud.
Backup vendor Acronis acquired nScaled in September. The San Francisco-based nScaled provided hybrid cloud infrastructure for the enterprise for backup and DR.
HP also expanded its Helion Continuity Services in October to support Red Hat Enterprise Linux physical clusters and Oracle real application clusters as part of its DRaaS offering. HP Helion Continuity is a managed cloud offering that HP 3PAR StoreServ and HP StoreOnce Backup systems as the underlying hardware. The services support private, virtual private and public cloud, and include block, file and object storage along with backup services.
OneCloud Software made its move into cloud DR in November with the release of its OneCloud Recovery software that runs on VMware hypervisors, creates a virtual data center in the AWS cloud, and handles failover, failback and testing.
Stratus Technologies also integrated DR capabilities in its everRun Enterprise software platform for Intel-based x86 servers, as it announced in November.
Virtualization's role in DR
EMC launched RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines, extending its RecoverPoint replication software to provide hypervisor-based replication for virtual applications running with VMware. EMC combined the array-based replication with CloudLink SecureVSA encryption from CloudLink Technologies, a partnership that allows service providers to build cloud DR.
Zerto, which also provides hypervisor-based replication, made two additions to beef up its Virtual Replication suite. It added off-site backup of metadata for rebuilding virtual machines to help recovery of VMware systems and support for Hyper-V replication.
HotLink upgraded its DR tool that uses AWS. The latest version of HotLink DR Express cloud disaster recovery includes automation and management features and HotLink deepened the integration between VMware vCenter and AWS.
More reading on virtualization's role in DR
DR preparedness, planning and testing
No matter how many times you hear about the importance of disaster recovery planning, it seems as though many companies are still ignoring DR. For example, a recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers study indicated that companies with DR plans dropped from 50% the previous year to 39%.
However, DR planning and testing is getting easier thanks to evolving technologies. Our experts offered outstanding advice on DR planning and testing throughout the year.
Eric Slack examined how DR software and server virtualization have eased disaster recovery testing. However, according to Jon Toigo, only a fraction of companies who have a DR plan actually test their plans. He added that companies would rather spend more money on revenue-producing initiatives than on risk prevention, while pointing out that organizations with reduced staffs have shorter tolerances to even short-term interruptions.
Jason Buffington, claims DR testing requires an honest look at your infrastructure. He recommends testing small components of a DR plan regularly to complement occasional full-scale DR tests. He adds that the cloud makes a great second site for DR, but organizations still need to form complete BC/DR plans.
Paul Kirvan outlined essential tasks that must be completed in the days following a disaster event to get the business back up and running. Kirvan also looked at why it's important to have a pandemic plan in place, as well as an employee succession plan, not to mention why it's important to enhance your DR plan with the national cybersecurity framework and have an after action plan at the ready.
More reading on DR planning and testing