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Fibre Channel Can Help Your Disaster Recovery Plans Weather Storms

By Anon Anon posted 10-06-2014 10:34 AM


This is a Brocade sponsored guest post by Aberdeen Senior Research Analyst and Editorial Director, Jim Rapoza.  Jim is a guest blogger


Living in a coastal beach town, I regularly receive reminders about being prepared for emergencies. These notifications spell out smart preparations like having a communications plan, putting away essential supplies to last a few days without water or power, and packing an emergency go-bag in case you need to get out of town in a hurry.


By taking these steps, my neighbors and I can be ready to make it through and recover from the next hurricane, blizzard or nor’easter (or as they like to say here in Massachusetts “nahheastahh”).


But what about enterprises and their vital data centers? Have they put together the right processes and plans to maintain business continuity and recover from disasters, both natural (like a hurricane) and man-made (such as an errant backhoe chopping through power and communications lines)?


Large scale disasters, like hurricanes, can shut down many businesses over a wide area, and recent events have taught some hard lessons about disaster recovery. Organizations that thought they were taken care of by having redundant facilities in other nearby towns discovered that some disasters can shut down entire regions.


Learning from these lessons, organizations today are building mirrored and redundant data centers and storage facilities far away from their main offices. They are ensuring that all of their vital servers, applications, cloud infrastructures and storage data are backed-up to remote facilities that can take over in the case of an emergency and that can serve to restore core data centers and offices once the disaster is past.


Given the high costs of downtime, this is a good plan. But have businesses thought through all of the implications of remote business continuity and disaster recovery?


For example, distance is good for having a backed-up facility that won’t be impacted by the same disasters that bring your main data center down. But when it comes to speedy backup and recovery, distance can make these tasks more complex and time consuming.


For example, if it takes forever to back up and mirror your remote facilities with the main data center, all of the up-to-date and vital data may not be at the remote facility when disaster strikes. Some may still be in-flight. And then, when you hit that switch to run your enterprise from the up and running remote data center, you may find that it doesn’t have all the data and content that you need to keep your business running smoothly. Databases and other critical applications could be out of synch.


Adding to this problem, when the flood waters recede and you get your main data center back up and running, restoring all of the vital servers, applications and data could take a very long time, which will be a major blow to any hopes of maintaining business continuity and high availability for your core systems.


Clearly, relying on traditional networking connections to keep these remote facilities operating is not a winning proposition.


So what are leading organizations doing in order to have true business continuity and disaster recovery infrastructures in place? For many, using a Fibre Channel based SAN connectivity “extension” solution ensures that they can keep their remote, mirrored data centers up-to-date (as in true mirrors) and able to recover from emergencies as fast as possible.


By utilizing robust storage connectivity options, such as FCIP, on their WANs, smart organizations are able to create a disaster recovery and business continuity infrastructure that is fast, reliable and extends their disaster recovery capabilities to where they are needed within the organization. With this in place, they know that their remote sites are true mirrors of their core data centers and that if an emergency happens, they can run from those sites smoothly, and they can quickly and easily restore their main sites.


In my personal emergency preparation plans, I may know exactly where I’m going to go if a hurricane strikes, and I may have everything I need to take with me ready to go. But if my car is too small or too unreliable, I may end up all wet. Similarly, organizations may have done all the ground work to build a backup emergency data center in the case of disasters, but if the connection is too slow, these remote locations won’t be able to ensure business continuity. Which is really just another disaster that no business needs to face.


Jim Rapoza is the Aberdeen Group’s Senior Research Analyst and Editorial Director.  For over twenty years he has been using, testing, and writing about the newest technologies in software, enterprise hardware and the Internet.