Recovery position

Wouter Vancoppenolle, regional sales director for eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa of Double-Take Software, explains four possible options for disaster recovery for your virtual environment.

Tags: Business ContinuityDouble Take Software Inc (www.doubletake.com)Double-Take SoftwareUnited Arab Emirates
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Recovery position
By  Imthishan Giado , Wouter Vancoppenolle Published  July 21, 2010

Wouter Vancoppenolle, regional sales director for eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa of Double-Take Software, explains four possible options for disaster recovery for your virtual environment.

Virtualisation is great for saving money and resources, but if you lose a virtual server you have larger bigger problems than if you had just lost a single server. While no company wants to put their business at risk by under-protecting their VMs, nobody likes to spend more than they have to on non-productive expenditures like insurance. The Small Business Administration divides businesses into two categories: those who have experienced a disaster and those who are about to experience one, and a study by CIO.com revealed that it costs 42% of companies $1,000 per hour of downtime, 26% of companies $10,000 per hour of downtime – with upper ranges at over $50,000 per hour.

For companies that are trying to figure out the best way to protect your virtual machines, here are a few things to consider:

First, in order to avoid killing a mosquito with a baseball bat, figure out your cost of downtime. These can help you (and the executives funding the bat) understand how much data and time you can afford to lose if your VMs are interrupted or if they fail all together. To figure out how much you have to lose, think about how much money the company would lose if all the transaction data and e-mails from the last 12 to 24 hours were lost, if there are compliance risks with not being able to produce data, and what it would cost to have employees recreate the last 12 to 24 hours of data.

Or, if you want to know exactly what an hour of downtime will cost you, you can use a simple formula to figure it out:

Cost Per Occurrence = (TO + TD) x (HR + LR)

TO = Length of Outage

TD = Time Delta (the length of time since your last backup)

HR = Hourly Rate of Personnel (monthly expense per department divided by the total number of work hours)

LR = Lost Revenue per Hour (applies if the department generates profit – a good rule is to look at profitability over three months and divide by the number of work hours)

Second, before deciding how to protect your data, it is important to consider what the data is being protected from.

Four reasons why companies often choose to protect their data are listed overleaf.

Loss of a single resource

In this scenario, a single important resource fails or is interrupted. For example, losing a virtual server that end users depend on for product ordering would cripple a business that depends on electronic procurement. Likewise, many businesses would be seriously affected by the loss of one of their primary e-mail servers. Planning for this case usually means providing both backup and availability for the virtual server.

Loss of user data files

This unfortunately common scenario involves the accidental or intentional loss of important data files. The most common solution is to restore the lost data from a backup, but this can involve going back to a previous snapshot of the server – often with data loss.

Planned outages for maintenance or migration

The goal of planned maintenance or migrations on virtual machines is usually to restore, repair or patch service. Migrations usually mean users won’t have access to applications and data on virtual machines while the migration is in progress and is tested. If you can tolerate downtime and your IT staff doesn’t mind putting in a night or weekend, the most basic migration software will do.

If you require availability and for users to remain online during a migration, more advanced software will allow you to perform migrations without interruptions.

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