This year’s hurricane season has been one for the record books, and one that many would prefer to forget. More than 10 hurricanes have so far been recorded – six above Category 3 – with thousands of people still recovering from Harvey, Irma and Maria.
But what about hurricane Bob? Are you ready for him? While often compared to one, hurricane Bob is not a meteorological event. Bob is just a guy.
He’s the guy who fries your power after putting aluminum foil in the microwave. The one that sets fire to the office by leaving the coffee pot on overnight, or crashes your network by clicking into the suspicious email link that someone thinks he’ll find interesting.
Bob is a nuisance, but he personifies the mundane threats that take down so many operations. While hurricanes, earthquakes and tornados might seem to be the most destructive forces of nature, nothing compares to hurricane Bob.
Mundane calamities are the top sources of downtime for organizations, including power outages, IT hardware and network failures and human errors. These ongoing realities serve as a reminder that disasters are not confined to seasons or calendars.
Disasters, manmade or natural, can occur at any time – at the end of a quarter when your sales teams are working to make their numbers, during crucial product rollouts or over the holidays when your IT team is away.
To free up your IT team to educate the Bobs of your office, consider these steps to make your disaster recovery (DR) more efficient.
- Take Inventory to Ensure Backups and Replication Are in Sync
Traditional backup strategies have evolved to overlap with modern snapshot and replication technologies that combine virtual machine (VM) snapshot scheduling with replication, failover and recovery. Like traditional incremental backups, snapshots capture only data that has changed since the last snapshot, making them highly efficient for storage and enabling flexible scheduling. It is important to know what level of protection each workload needs and take inventory of your DR and backup plan. With flexible snapshots, you can tier how often each dataset is replicated based on specific requirements, saving time and reducing the burden on storage capacity.
- Converge Infrastructures When Possible
Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions that combine servers, storage, virtualization and backup or DR solutions into a single integrated system can help save operational and support times. With traditional infrastructure solutions that have servers, storage, virtualization and backup/DR as separate systems, deployment and maintenance can become complicated and expensive, and compatibility issues can lead to vendor finger-pointing. Hyper-converged infrastructures provide simplicity starting with rapid, easy implementation and ongoing simplicity through unified management, unified support and seamless scalability.
- Add Off-Site Replication and Remote Snapshots to Provide Geographic Redundancy
Reduce recovery times by replicating data and snapshots to another device at an off-site location or leverage cloud-based DR as a service (DRaaS). This step adds an additional layer of protection and allows the business to be up and running again quickly. After a disaster, organizations can recover all critical workloads. Having data replicated off-site minimizes the impact of any on-site damage as it can be used both for failover to an alternate location and to allow eventual recovery back to your primary site.
- Plan Your Remote Failover Options
Many traditional DR plans lack a failover option, which is highly critical to a speedy recovery. Without a remote failover option, your DR plan may be no better than a big, slow remote tape drive. Organizations must be prepared for disasters where quick local recovery is not an option (for example, a sustained power outage, fire or natural disaster that can cause damage to physical appliances within the data center or the building itself). A failover process allows critical applications to run at an alternative location using replicated data. This process allows businesses to maintain operations within a matter of minutes for a fast recovery time objective (RTO). Options for failover may include using a second company location, using a shared colocation datacenter or using public cloud resources and services. The use of public cloud resources is increasing.
- Be Ready for Individual File Recoveries
While failover provides rapid recovery of an entire VM, there are cases where this is neither desirable, nor practical, such as when only a single file or group of files has been corrupted or accidently deleted. Organizations don’t want to waste time recovering the entire VM or leave employees to re-create that data instead. But with individual file-level recovery, data can be rapidly recovered either on an individual file basis or as an entire VM.
Time spent building a DR plan with these components enables an IT team to recover data within minutes. So an otherwise harmless slipup in the office breakroom won’t shut down a business for days.
Backup and DR used to be considered different problems that were solved by different solutions in various ways. However, it’s now possible to solve both backup and DR together with infrastructure that is built from the ground up to keep applications and data protected through any event. If IT professionals can spend less time planning, recovering, or preparing for a disaster, they can more closely monitor and train employees to prevent the hurricane Bobs of the world from making a mess of things.
Dave Demlow is the Vice President of Product Management and Support at Scale Computing, a hyper-converged solutions provider. He has more than 20 years of storage and software product management experience, having previously served as CTO and Vice President of Product Management at Double-Take Software, where he led the company’s product, technology and merger and acquisition (M&A) strategy for 13 years. Demlow graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.