Recovery or Availability?
Recovery or availability? It's 4:00a.m. in California, but in London, it's the middle of the working day. A CEO of a global corporation with offices in both locations is relying on current information to finalize an acquisition. Without warning, the power supply to the server room fails. The mail and mobility servers are still physical, the backup is (was) online, but there are virtual hosts in another part of the corporate campus and power still flows there. This could be a career-defining moment.With a lot of hard work, copious cups of coffee and a little luck, it only takes a few hours to re-purpose systems and provide basic e-mail and BlackBerry service. But in the lifetime of negotiation, hours seem like weeks. The CEO has now had to concede on several sticking points and wants to know why the investment in virtualization did not deliver the continuity it promised.What's worse is, this could have been avoided. Alongside the backup, a replica copy of the relevant systems could have been held on the virtual systems, which in turn could have been monitoring availability of the e-mail and BlackBerry servers. It could have immediately responded to the downtime by initiating an automated failover, allowing users to carry on working without disruption. Business continuity: It's all about the user experience The best way for IT to ensure consistent business performance is through the implementation of a solution that focuses on the business need and user experience. Meeting that need should be part of the virtual deployment planning, and drive the selection of virtual infrastructure and extended management tools. This means looking at all aspects of the virtual deployment and the source of outage threats. The reasons for outages vary. They may include data loss, server failure, application failure, network failure, planned downtime, application performance degradation and corruption, or a complete site outage (disaster). It's a fact of life that IT outages will happen; therefore, a critical goal should be that when an outage occurs, it should not result in business disruption and downtime. Users should be able to continue operating as if nothing has happened, thus delivering on the promise of consistent business performance. During virtualization projects, a critical look should be taken at possible failure points and the ability of the management tools to detect such failures. Blending physical and virtual deployments to accelerate availability By combining the best of replication, application monitoring and automation with virtual infrastructure, users can significantly enhance their business continuity capabilities. Virtual hosts running less critical systems can be used to provide a business-critical failover server without risking existing systems in any way. For example, in the event of a database crisis, it's just a question of making sure the failover server is available for users to connect to and carry on working. Finding a combination of replication, monitoring and seamless failover software that can manage the process is all that is required. This architecture can work locally for high availability and remotely for disaster recovery. It can even be extended so that the virtual host becomes an availability hub supporting multiple, mission-critical applications, perhaps on a dedicated virtual host. Andrew Barnes is Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for Neverfail. Andrew joined Neverfail in March 2007, bringing extensive experience in marketing, product management and pre-sales from his 25 years in the software industry. In this current role, Andrew is responsible for Neverfail's branding, marketing, product management and Web presence. Andrew most recently served as VP of Marketing for a European-based software company and has held a variety of senior positions with companies such as KVS, Sun and Platinum Technology. Previously, Andrew worked as Global Director of Marketing for KVS Inc. where he was responsible for all aspects of marketing and grew the customer base tenfold until the company's acquisition by Veritas (now Symantec). Prior to KVS, Andrew was Northern Europe Marketing Manager for iPlanet and Product Marketing Manager for Forte Software (acquired by Sun Microsystems). In addition, Andrew served as the European Product Manager for Platinum Technology where he led a multinational team responsible for the launch and sales enablement of Platinum Infrastructure management products across Europe. He can be reached at ABarnes@neverfailgroup.com.