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Virtualization for Disaster Recovery, Building the Right Plan

Strategically Speaking
Feb 29, 2012

Chris Sutherland Author: Chris Sutherland,

It is almost time for the annual PEC Educational Conference (March 6 - 9, 2012; Shameless Plug—don’t miss it!) and in preparing for the conference I found a few interesting facts on the subject of exactly how virtualization is catching on. So I thought we might revisit some of these findings and talk about why virtualization is a good choice for most enterprises.

Virtualization continues to be a hot topic in most IT circles and there are many reasons we see this trend growing, as shown in the chart below. In the finance and insurance industries, 44% utilize some form or another of virtualization and 82% plan to use more virtualization for newly acquired servers.  And the size of businesses may shock you as well. In those surveyed, 45% of small companies lead the way in virtualization, followed closely by medium and enterprise-sized companies at 37% and 35% respectively, and 35% of commercial-sized companies.


So why are these compainies choosing virtualization? Leading the way among reasons to accept and adopt virtualization are: the ability to reduce hardware costs, followed closely by disaster recovery (DR) improvements. There are so many reasons we could fill up several blogs entries with this information, but let’s focus on one—the ways virtualization can help you improve your DR effort.

chart2 resized 600

So how do virtualization (and VMware) help with your DR plans? First, you must define your plan (you do have one?) What are the most critical applications that need to be online? How long can you go without email? How long can you go without access to documents?  These are all questions that need to be determined when assessing your needs. Ask yourself this, “What would you do if your main location were suddenly gone?”

There are several tools available that give you different levels of support for your DR Site.  From backup replication to SAN replication you have the ability to meet your desired Response Time Objective for having your servers and application available to your employees.  Many factors should be considered when planning for your DR Site, such as the amount of data you have and need to replicate to the amount of bandwidth needed to make sure everything stays up to date. There are also tools available that will assist you with failover procedures for all of your systems, from changing the systems IP addresses to the order in which the servers will boot up and come back online.  With the proper configuration and tools you can accomplish the most important function of a DR Site; that is, test it so that you know when you need the site it will be working and working correctly, without affecting your production environment. That means that when a natural disaster occurs, even though we all hope it never does, you have a site you can trust.

So what have we concluded?  While no one wants to think about a natural disaster or what they will do if it happens to them, with a defined plan, replication of your data, and the proper tools, you can trust that you are well prepared. So, what is your plan for when disaster strikes?


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