Implementing an IT insurance plan with automated disaster recovery

CIOs need to know that their data is secure and protected in the event of disaster

Natural disasters — storms, bushfires and earthquakes — make for gripping headlines. However, when it comes to data centre and storage disasters, most of them stem from human error or malicious acts: Someone misses their morning coffee, accidentally flips the wrong switch, and sets of a series of errors that leads to power loss for a city.

As data is the most important asset of any company, CIOs need to know that their data is secure and protected in the event of a disaster or similar event, so that employees are able to access it year-round.

Ensuring that there is no downtime in the data centre is a critical task, but data protection has to go beyond data. CIOs have to ensure that the applications, systems and servers that are used to access this data are running smoothly following a disaster. Basically, it comes down to the fact that companies must protect their entire infrastructure – not just the data that is associated with it.

Providing data protection and disaster recovery (DR) services for an entire infrastructure is challenging. With growing stores and infrastructure complexity, the IT department must handle all of the daily IT tasks, protect each service and do so with limited budgets and staff.

To provide themselves with peace of mind and to guard against any future issues, CIOs implement data protection and disaster recovery plans. These solutions are the CIO’s insurance policy against disasters or even the loss of a single file.

For instance, an executive might update a PowerPoint presentation and press the “save” button rather than “save as,” overwriting the original work. This is the time where the ability to press a button and get that original document back should come into play. The CIO becomes the hero for an executive who would have lost her work without this recovery capability.

The CIO’s job is made even easier if the solution is automated. Automated disaster recovery takes all the time-consuming data services recovery steps and automates them. The CIO only needs to make a single click to start the process, rather than spend hours going through countless checklists, steps and system restarts.

Automated DR incorporates the specific order and procedures and applies them to the DR process. It eliminates failure and returns the company back to normal operations within minutes rather than hours or days. It removes the human element – which can be prone to error – from the process. Automated DR is an insurance policy CIOs invest in for events of all sizes and shapes.

To know if automated DR is right for their companies, CIOs should ask the following questions about their failover and failback. For clarification, failover is when the primary data centre has an issue and there is an automatic switch to the redundant system at the DR site to ensure there is no downtime. Failback is taking the restoration of the data, services and systems running at the DR site back to the primary data centre.

• How do I protect the physical machines? Do I have to recover to the identical physical machine at my DR site or can I use a virtual machine?
• During an outage, I only need to move things temporarily to my DR site, how difficult is the failback operation to the main data centre?
• Can I correctly protect and accomplish failover and failback between the sites even with various hypervisor environments?
• During a site failover, I want to be able to recover to a particular point in time, rather than the last replicated state. Is that type of recovery possible?
• Should I test my DR system? Is that possible without causing downtime for my users?
• How long will it take for my team to complete the failover and failback operations?

With the implementation of automated DR, CIOs are ensured that they could easily answer each of these questions. It provides businesses with the benefits of little to no downtime if a disaster were to occur, ensures that the recovery process is smooth and quick and, best of all, provides CIOs with peace of mind.

So, if a cleaning crew unplugs a critical server to vacuum the data centre room rug, there are no worries that the entire infrastructure will crash. Automated DR ensures complete failover to the DR site and allows simple failback once that crew is done.

Darrell Riddle, senior director of product marketing for FalconStor Software, is a professional with more than 22 years of experience in product management, marketing, field enablement, product integration activities, engineering, quality assurance and IT management

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