I have been writing in the past for my friends at Vembu by covering the process aspects of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. Starting from the top view (identifying business objectives) and mapping those objectives to technological requirements is key in building a successful BC/DR strategy. However, as you start peeling the layers and reach the point where technology gets involved, choices will have to be made to select an appropriate solution.
When looking at solutions on the market, what characteristics should we seek to help us implement a successful BC/DR strategy, especially in the context of virtualized environments?
In my view, it should fulfill at least the following requirements:
- support compression and encryption
- support IP address change on restore
- support near real-time replication
- provide low RTOs and RPOs (under 15 minutes)
- offer the ability to replicate to a remote location or to cloud
be hypervisor agnostic
- support cross-hypervisor migration/restore
Looking at this voluntarily reduced list, and putting aside the two absolutely evident core requirements that are near real-time replication and low RPOs/RTOs, I see two elements that are key here: remote data replication and cross-hypervisor activities.
Data replication to a remote location or to cloud is essential to data protection. The proven 3-2-1 backup rule still makes sense: if you do not know it, it’s keep 3 copies of the data, including the production data, stored on 2 different media types, with 1 copy kept offsite. In that context, remote replication is a must-have when an entire location is lost. And a disaster doesn’t necessarily mean a destructive fire bringing an entire location down: sometimes a power surge can make devastating damage to data equipment leaving the core of the organization’s business activities untouched. In such case, the ability to provide remote services will determine the company’s ability to recover from a disaster and to keep on thriving as a business.
In that context, the ability to replicate data to a public cloud service is a major feature since it allows customers to benefit from the 3-2-1 backup rule without the hassle of setting up a remote DR infrastructure and the costs associated to it such as finding a remote data center / co-location hosting (purchasing hardware, purchasing and setting up network connectivity, support and maintenance, co-location costs etc.).
Moving onto cross-hypervisor operations, why do they matter? While hypervisor cross-compatibility might not be a core capability delivered by a backup & restore solution, it is nevertheless essential in making administrators lives easier and help keep licensing costs in control. In today’s hybrid IT world, monolithic single-vendor environments are a memory from the past. We acknowledge that many production environments are built with VMware vSphere as the standard hypervisor platform for historical reasons, but when it comes to having a test environment to restore VMs, or building a cost-efficient DR locality, the cost of hypervisor licenses needs to be taken into consideration. Vembu VMBackup supports all of the major VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V releases; backed up data can be exported in various formats to import the VM on any environment, which makes it suitable for V2V or even V2P migrations if a customer deems they need to go back to the physical world.
While the focus on the features I developed above might seem a bit out of core backup & restore capabilities scope, a majority of solutions in the industry have (hopefully) reached a certain level of maturity where features such as data deduplication and compression are considered standard. What matters to customers is how a backup solution can help deliver better business outcomes, keep costs in control and deliver the flexibility that hybrid IT requires, while adhering to an organization’s business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
Vembu VMBackup and on a larger extent Vembu BDR Suite are solutions that deliver on those modern IT infrastructure requirements and offer great value at an affordable price point. With RPOs and RTOs that can be lower than 15 minutes, Vembu VMBackup brings replication & data recovery to near real-time levels, thus ideally supporting your disaster recovery and business continuity processes without becoming an expensive endeavor.
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