By Joe Conlin, Senior Solutions Engineer, TierPoint
Disaster recovery is a big topic in executive circles these days, fueled by almost weekly examples of what happens when IT systems fail. We’ve seen it in retail, banking and most recently, the airline industry. In July, Southwest Airlines delayed or canceled more than 10,000 flights. Right after that, Delta grounded or delayed 2,500. The cost? Not just a blow to the bottom line, but the long-lasting ill will of customers burned by the flame-out.
Why does this repeatedly happen? The complexity of most companies’ IT systems makes it a foregone conclusion. In the IT industry, we don’t deny systems will fail, in fact we know they will. The only course of action is to have a good disaster recovery (DR) plan in place to minimize the impact.
Fortunately, disaster recovery services have changed significantly in just the last few years. More than ever before, options are available for every size company. To bring you up to speed, here are the top misconceptions we’re hearing about disaster recovery today.
1. Backup and recovery are the cheapest/best options for midsize companies.
This might have been true once, but no more. Backup and recovery – where data is routinely backed up to a different location and then restored back to the source location or an alternative site when systems fail – was a common strategy used by midsized companies. There are downsides for using a data protection solution for disaster recovery as well, such as the timeliness of backups and downtime between data failure and recovery. With recent technology advances, replication can meet much lower recovery time and recovery point objectives (RTOs and RPOs) than backup and recovery and with the prevalence of virtualization and proven replication tools is extremely cost competitive. Replication runs a mirror image of your data operations and can take over at the moment of failure.
2. DR is easily managed in-house.
How good are you at something you do once a year? That’s the challenge faced by IT staff, who can be perpetual novices at maintaining DR systems precisely because they are used so rarely. DR systems should be tested at least annually, but the task often falls to more immediate priorities. To make matters more difficult, disaster recovery technology is changing rapidly. That’s good news for your business, but a significant learning challenge for staff. A partner that specializes in DR is more efficient at defining, testing and tweaking DR processes to reduce the impact of system failure.
3. DR is rarely used, but the cost is constant.
Disaster recovery assets of the past were static systems that sat on the floor (and the balance sheet), taking up space but rarely put to use. One of the new realities is that DR compute, storage and network resources can be an extension of your production environment that expand and contract based on need, be it for an actual system failure or for spinning up a proof-of-concept application that your team is looking to evaluate. A well-implemented DR plan can and should support operational efficiency.
In addition, DR cloud strategies can offer variable rates depending on usage, as well as hyperscale computing for efficiently ramping up from a few servers to thousands for special business needs. DR plans aren’t just for DR anymore!
4. Full responsibility for DR rests with the IT organization.
A strong DR plan starts at the top, in the C-suite, with a business analysis: what applications and people are critical to the flow of revenue, and what infrastructure is critical to keep them operating at all times? Are we integrating systems from acquisitions? Have we delayed upgrades or changed strategic direction? How old are our legacy systems? We frequently see organizations get bogged down in the analysis process and skip straight to selecting DR tools. Determining company needs is a C-suite job; based on that high-level analysis, the IT team can make recommendations on the best DR solutions.
[Related post: De-risking your DR]
5. Putting DR in the cloud simplifies management.
Employing cloud strategies for disaster recovery offers more benefits than ever before, but it also leads to complexity – and that can undermine availability efforts. For example, if your hybrid DR strategy depends on two cloud environments, physical servers, and a costly array-based replication technology your predecessor invested heavily in just over a year ago, you may need to orchestrate three different tools to manage a failure.
Traditionally this has been a challenge as with each technology employed, room for human error increases which in turn threatens your recovery time objectives, and ultimately confidence in recovery diminishes. It is precisely because of this all-too-common scenario that TierPoint has launched its new Software-Defined Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) tool that unifies management and centralizes orchestration of all the systems in a single dashboard.
Given the various disaster recovery solutions available today and the countless reasons that putting a plan in place is crucial, the time is now. We invite you to sit down with your team to map out your 2017 DR plan objectives – and TierPoint is here to help if you have questions along the way.
Joe Conlin is a Senior Solutions Engineer at TierPoint. For a better part of the last decade, Joe has helped companies around the globe leverage expert technology solutions. His specialized area of focus is on private and multi-tenant cloud infrastructure, including navigating the ever-changing world of enterprise hardware vendors and hypervisors. In Joe’s own words: “I like knowing what makes things tick, how they break, and how to make them tick more and break less!”