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Disaster Recovery: Re-Thinking Your Strategy
Secondary sites are now cost-effective recovery tools

3. Flexibility Through Secondary Sites
For most enterprise IT organizations, secondary sites are viewed strictly as cost centers, sitting idle much of the time. New advances in server provisioning software allow more value to be extracted from secondary sites, enabling them to be used for test development, quality assurance, or even less critical applications. If a disaster strikes and the primary data center goes down, administrators can use provisioning software to automatically reprovision server resources to match the production environment.

Advanced clustering software also reduces the high cost of the traditional condition that applications must be failed over to the identical hardware that the production applications run on. The most sophisticated clustering software permits failovers between different storage and server hardware within a data center or at remote sites.

With the flexibility to dynamically reconfigure and reallocate resources, the secondary site becomes a resource that can be used for multiple purposes the majority of the time, but can be quickly reverted to its backup designation when needed. This underscores the value a secondary data center can deliver, making it more accessible to more companies.

4. Realize Value in Virtual Environments
Server virtualization has become mainstream technology in today’s server-centric data center. Server virtualization employs virtual machine technology that allows multiple operating systems to be run on a single server, each functioning independently of the others with its own operating system.

Restarting virtual servers at secondary sites has traditionally been a manual process, requiring personnel who may not be available during an actual disaster. New clustering software allows companies to deploy server virtualization technology and receive the same automated disaster recovery benefits they can expect in their physical server environments.

Furthermore, new high availability and disaster recovery tools are available that reduce the complexity of protecting and managing both physical and virtual server environments. With clustering software, administrators can fail over applications from physical servers to virtual servers, and manage physical and virtual resources from a single graphical user interface. The result is that through effective management of physical and virtual servers, hardware costs at secondary sites can be significantly reduced.

5. Regularly Test Your DR plan
Recent studies have shown that few companies test their DR plans on a regular basis, and, as a result, most companies have little faith that their DR plans will work when needed. Companies have been reluctant to conduct DR testing because testing often involves bringing down production systems, mobilizing a large segment of the work force, thus taking them off of more urgent projects, and forcing employees to work during inconvenient hours such as weekends or nights.

With automated failover capabilities, IT organizations can test recovery procedures using a copy of the production data – without interrupting production, corrupting the data, or risking problems upon restarting a production application. This capability means that tests can be run during business hours instead of over the weekend, reducing staff overtime. As an added benefit, automated tests run during peak production periods and can re-create and approximate the conditions that would occur during a true failover situation.

Configuration management tools can also give more confidence to IT managers that their DR plans will work by ensuring that servers at DR sites are consistent with those in production sites. Server builds change over time as patches are implemented or as application dependencies change. This can prevent clustered servers from working properly, as standby servers may not have received the latest patch or configuration updates. The latest configuration management tools can run consistency checks that will alert administrators that servers have drifted from the standard build. Action can then be taken to make the appropriate changes and ensure that HA/DR technology will work when called upon.

Summary
The devastating impact that natural and man-made disasters can have on business continuity has become clear to many IT organizations. Many IT departments are feeling the increased pressure to improve their business continuity capabilities while containing costs. Today, innovative new high availability and disaster recovery software is available, allowing IT organizations of all sizes to consider a cost-effective secondary site as a viable choice. In addition to helping ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster, these automated solutions – for configuration management, clustering, provisioning, and server virtualization – improve IT teams’ ability to deliver maximum uptime and improve productivity, every day. Now, more than ever, the time is right for enterprise IT organizations to rethink HA/DR strategies and enhance their business continuity plans with a secondary data center.

About Dan Lamorena
Dan Lamorena is Director, Product Marketing, Storage and Availability Management Group, responsible for Symantec's Storage Management and High Availability products. He has spent the last five years with Symantec working with customers to help them optimize storage and improve application availability and is a frequent contributor to industry trade publications related to storage and disaster recovery.

Prior to joining Symantec, Dan held product marketing, business development, and strategy management roles with Cisco Systems, Electronic Arts, Ernst and Young, and mobileID.

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

Disaster Recovery is always a thorn in the back. Everyone wants it but nobody has the money to pay for it. I came across a new idea of a self contained mobile rack that allows me to house mission critical servers. I would highly recommend a look into the technology. Just google "spear mobile rack". Company is based in Arizona and seems to be at the beginnings of something here.




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