Evaluating HA and DR solutions

 
 
By Andrew Barnes  |  Posted 2009-10-06
 
 
 

How to Evaluate High Availability, Disaster Recovery Solutions for BlackBerry Enterprise Server


The widespread corporate usage of RIM BlackBerry, Apple iPhone and Microsoft Windows mobile devices is causing organizations to rethink their business continuity strategies. Employees rely on e-mail 24/7 and any downtime is costly. It's costly not just in terms of productivity but also in terms of reputation, revenue and competitiveness.

In organizations of 1,500 employees, for example, the annual productivity loss caused by e-mail downtime is estimated to be over $250,000 per year. The net effect is that organizations are looking for high availability (HA) solutions to keep e-mail flowing to mobile devices in an emergency or during vital maintenance.

There are a variety of partial solutions available. Some solutions concentrate on BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) HA, while others focus on database replication for disaster recovery (DR). But what they all share in common is a stovepiped approach to protect individual components in the e-mail flow, rather than ensuring continuous e-mail availability wherever in the world the user may be.

As the most widespread corporate mobile e-mail solution, BlackBerry smartphones are a specific area where HA demand is high. There are several approaches to protect the e-mail flow to BlackBerry smartphones, yet different technologies are often involved, with no integration between them. Coordinating failover between these disparate systems can be a manually-intensive job, resulting in increased costs and greater risk of downtime. This is something which no organization, especially in this economic climate, can afford.

Evaluating HA and DR solutions


Evaluating HA and DR solutions

It's more important than ever to be cautious when making a large IT investment because what may seem like the right purchase today (based on initial cost) can potentially turn into a financial burden tomorrow if you don't do your homework. You need to ask the tough questions when evaluating mobile messaging HA and DR solutions. When evaluating a HA and DR for BlackBerry solution, it's important to run through the following checklist and ask yourself these ten questions. Will the solution:

1. Offer both a manual and automatic failover/failback by the click of a single button? Look for solutions that will automatically detect a BES outage and provide seamless failover and service restoration for all users within 90 seconds. When every minute of downtime represents potential lost revenue, you want your service to be back up and running without a glitch-and before anyone notices.

2. Not impose architectural constraints or force system rebuilds? For example, a HA solution allowing both the BES and database to be deployed on the same server or separate servers gives maximum flexibility and cost options.

3. Offer protection for the associated configuration database? This ensures complete functional availability, including for security-related tasks such as remote device management.

4. Provide HA and remote WAN deployment for DR to protect from complete site failure? You shouldn't have to choose between local HA and remote DR. Look for flexible solutions that offer both LAN and WAN support and provide the most comprehensive protection available.

5. Offer complete data protection through data replication, ensuring both the data and the registry can be rolled back and BES logs recovered? Data protection through replication ensures that the primary and secondary servers are identical and complete environment protection preserves the log files-which is important from a compliance perspective.

Five More Points to Consider


Five more points to consider

6. Protect the other pieces of the messaging environment (that is, Exchange, Domino or GroupWise)? Evaluate the solution for end-to-end messaging protection, from the origination of the e-mail message in Exchange or Domino to the delivery of the message on the handheld through the BES. This ensures that even when mobile e-mail downtime is threatened by e-mail server failure, the implications can be avoided.

7. Restart failed services instead of failing over to the secondary server? To ensure continuous application availability, the solution should offer proactive resolution capabilities such as restarting services-which means the failover can be avoided, in turn providing an even better service-level agreement (SLA) achievement.

8. Monitor the overall health of the BES through proactive monitoring to ensure ongoing server reliability? You'll want to deploy a solution that conducts a full diagnosis on the server configuration environment and provides recommendations to ensure BES reliability. This will help you to anticipate any possible issue or situation that could result in downtime, saving you time, money and valuable resources in the end.

9. Be easy to maintain? This sounds like a given, but many HA and DR solutions are just the opposite and can require substantial IT resources. Look for a solution that requires minimal IT skills to manage and operate, that is fully automated, and gives IT administrators complete control and flexibility.

10. Require you to upgrade your existing BES server or re-architect your environment? Buyers, beware. Stay clear of any solution requiring this. You should be able to stay on your existing BES server platform, which will give you the stability you need to successfully run the solution.

It isn't easy riffling through the many HA/DR mobile offerings and weighing their pros and cons. However, with the right amount of due diligence-and the proper checklist of requirements-you'll be well on your way to making a sound decision for your organization. Good luck.

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. He can be reached at ABarnes@neverfailgroup.com.

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