Dr: Critical to the ‘Always-On’ Business
Gregg Petersen, regional director, Middle East and SAARC at Veeam Software, talks about the importance of business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) and why organisations should opt for DR as a service (DRaaS).
In the age of the “always-on” business, companies are facing new demands from end users including 24 by 7 access to data and apps, and whom have no patience for downtime or data loss, all this while grappling with an exponential data growth of 30 to 50% per year.
To cope with these demands, many companies today are building modern data centres and investing in server virtualisation, modern storage apps and cloud-based services, all in pursuit of higher speeds, more efficient use of existing resources and possible cost savings.
According to the Veeam Data Centre Availability Report 2014, companies risk losing between $4.4m and $7.9m in lost data and app failures each year.
In addition to these financial losses, there is the risk of damage to an organisation’s reputation, something that is very difficult to measure in pure financial terms but can cripple an organisation, setting it back years and putting it at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the competition.
There is clearly an availability gap between the requirements of an always-on infrastructure, and IT’s ability to effectively deliver availability. In fact, 82% of CIOs said in the report that there is a gap between the level of availability they provide and what end users demand. One of the keys to bridging this availability gap is modernising the data centre and paying special attention to business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) planning.
Unfortunately this is an area that is often overlooked in large part because there is a misconception that it can be very expensive.
Data protection needs
The first step in implementing a successful BC and DR plan is evaluation. Organisations need to conduct a thorough risk assessment of the entire IT infrastructure and all services that support business critical applications. A good BC plan should include a “runbook” or script that sets out exactly what needs to be done, by whom and in what order.
Embrace DR solutions
For complete data protection and recovery, especially in case of disasters, organisations should follow the 3-2-1 rule. What this means is that they should have three copies of data, stored on two different kinds of media, with one of them stored offsite. This means that in addition to the primary data, organisations should have at least two more backups as having more copies of the data reduces risk of losing the it during a disaster. There are four key arguments in favour of DR as a service (DRaaS):
1. Increased flexibility
If an organisation chooses to have a physical secondary site for their DR services, then it is essential that this site be a carbon copy of the primary production site. This can be an extremely daunting task by itself but even if it’s done properly, there is the burden of having to continuously monitor the systems to ensure that they are synchronised. The advantage of DRaaS is that this synchronisation can be abstracted.
2. Reduced costs
Organisations that choose to deploy physical secondary sites to support DR services have to make a significant CAPEX outlay associated with the physical infrastructure, hardware and software licences and regular maintenance. DRaaS on the other hand works on a subscription, pay-as-you-go model. Organisations only have to pay for the services they use, which works out to be cost effective, especially for SMBs.
3. robust testing
Regularly testing the DR system is a key part of any BC or DR strategy. Unfortunately, given the synchronisation issues with traditional DR systems, testing is both expensive and time consuming. DRaaS on the other hand gives firms the luxury of conducting more frequent (be it quarterly or half-yearly) testing which increases the likelihood of efficient and successful recovery in case of a disaster.
4. Rapid Recovery
As stated earlier, in the era of the always-on business, any downtime, even if it is a result of a natural disaster, can be catastrophic for an organisation. If all the servers are still physical, the recovery process is still going to be long and complex (often taking days). With DRaaS on the other hand, businesses can recover data in a matter of hours if not minutes.