Why Disaster Recovery Isn't an Option Anymore

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-07-18 Print this article Print

title=DR in the Cloud} 

A recent use case about a DR system that performed exactly the way it was designed to work is revelatory of the "perfect world" discussed here.

ReadyOne Industries of El Paso, Texas, is a multifaceted manufacturing company that makes uniforms (among other things) for the federal government. It recently deployed an encrypted Nasuni storage gateway appliance as a restorer for its entire system.

Nasuni has a virtual NAS file server/front end called Nasuni Filer that runs on VMware and uses publicly available cloud resources-Amazon S3, Nirvanex and Rackspace-to handle primary data cloud storage. "The cloud, with its great efficiencies of scale, is the future for all file storage," Nasuni CEO and Co-founder Andres Rodriguez, a former archive director of The New York Times, told eWEEK.

This cloud storage gateway saved ReadyOne's bacon earlier this year. The company was using the Nasuni Filer for all 300 of its employees' XenDesktop home directories.

"We ended up with a SAN hardware failure-some due to human error, some due to environmental issues," said IT Manager Jesus Torres. "The failure put our SAN into a recovery mode for what was going to be about two weeks, but we couldn't live two weeks without our data.

"Because Nasuni had snapshots of our system stored in its cloud, we were able to decrypt everything using a backup key that Nasuni had kept in escrow for us. We were able to get back on line in short order."

A system like Nasuni's also can scale up to handle larger systems as necessary, Rodriguez said. However, there are a number of offerings from other providers that may fit certain systems better than others.

For example, Hewlett-Packard (HP), through its Information Management Software and Services division, is a global service provider that can take an enterprise located anywhere in the world from assessment to DR readiness within a few weeks, June Manley, global marketing director, told eWEEK.

DR Falls Through the Cracks

Industry experts have known this fact for a long time: DR software, services and the policies to govern them are now mandatory for most companies to remain in business when disaster strikes.

"DR isn't an option anymore," Manley said. "Still, some companies are not applying the right protection policies. You scratch your head and wonder why people are not protecting their data as they should. This is IT 101. But DR tends to fall through the cracks when businesses have other things to worry about. "

Even though HP offers full-service information management hardware, software and services to go with several data recovery options, the first aspect of an IT system that it examines focuses on the people responsible for decision making and system execution.

"The first thing we do is bring all the stakeholders to the table and get them to understand that people and the technology are equally important in information management," Manley explained. "We ask them: What information are you generating? How important is that information to you? Are you setting the right protection and retention policies? How do you manage that information based on its business value?"

Only after these questions are answered can the design and installation of a reliable DR apparatus be implemented, Manley added.

From a larger perspective, these are questions that every enterprise needs to ask.  The answers are going to go a long way toward determining how well and how quickly an organization will recover from the virtually inevitable disaster that will strike at some point.

Fortunately, there are a number of reputable DR software, hardware and service providers like Nasuni and HP from which to choose. They include Acronis, CommVault, Dell, EMC, IBM, Seagate's i365, Sungard, VMware and others.

The key is to engage one of these vendors before the next disaster happens-and, rest assured, it will happen.


Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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