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Who will recover your data if disaster strikes?

Expect the unexpected

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Too big to fail

But not all businesses would. It is all about who your customers are. A Ma and Pa bagel shop with three locations all in the same metro will probably be forgiven if they go down when the city experiences disaster.

Take that same company but spread the three locations out across the three major cities in the province and you might find the customers who are half a province away somewhat less forgiving.

In an ideal world every company would have a disaster recovery site that was identical to its primary

There are many schemes for disaster recovery on the market, each more convoluted than the last. In an ideal world every company would have a disaster recovery site that was identical to its primary but that is cost prohibitive, whatever the size of your organisation.

Unitrends allows you to back up all your data to its appliances, which also have a hypervisor installed. If everything goes pear-shaped, you can light up your most critical workloads at the push of a button and be up and running.

This won’t save the bacon of a Fortune 1000 company but it is probably a better disaster recovery plan than those of most small businesses.

CommVault is a great source of stories about the creative ways that companies try to plan for these inevitabilities. Proper disaster recovery planning means you can stand up your entire infrastructure – or at least the bits which are critical for day-to-day operations – at short notice, even if your primary site is destroyed.

If you control multiple sites that are far enough apart – Swiss banks use 100km minimums – with fat enough internet pipes, this is fairly easy. It is not cheap, however.

CommVault has become rather good at virtual infrastructure conversion and will gladly tell you tales of how companies with massive VMware infrastructure run Hyper-V in their disaster recovery site because it is cheaper.

Here is more interesting territory. Multiple sites have at least entered the equation. Automation of failover is still something of a question (how well does automated VMware to Hyper-V work?) as is automated failback after the primaries come back up.

Second home

Running one data centre is expensive. Even if your data centre is a single row of servers you are still getting into cabling, cooling, a lot more electrical than anything except heavy industrial equipment and eye-watering capital costs up-front.

A disaster recovery site is an insurance policy. Already an expensive proposition for most businesses, it is becoming ever more so. For how many people is the insurance on a house fire represented by having an entire spare house somewhere?

Disaster recovery can be done cheaper when it is done at scale. That means shared hosting of some variety.

Thanks to almost a decade of public cloud marketing most readers would be excused for assuming that disaster recovery means backing up to one of the big three providers. It doesn't have to be so.

Microsoft's Cloud OS concept seems the closest to a happy medium between "affordable" and "will probably work when waste encounters air rotator". Virtualise everything. Run the same hypervisor on your site as some other provider (a local service provider or Microsoft's Azure cloud) does on its site.

Use software that backs up the whole shebang on a continual basis and if need be turn on the bits that went down. The critical element is having the same hypervisor on both sites, making the entire process of moving compute and data much simpler.

Take your pick

At the very least, backups are required. It may take time to get everything back up and running from backups but a KineticD-style service is far better than nothing.

If you are a small business or home user keeping your data on a local NAS, buy an IoSafe because chances are you won't be checking regularly that your backups are running.

If, however, you run a business where downtime can cost you serious amounts of money, then it is time to start thinking about your disaster recovery options.

What resources do you have available? What needs to be up and running in minutes, hours, days or weeks?

If you pick a hosted provider – public cloud or local service provider – as your destination be sure to vet it thoroughly. You don't want to end up getting Nirvanixed.

You probably want the company that doesn't have to bucket brigade diesel up the stairs during a hurricane, but you absolutely want the one that will if it has to.

Who is on your list? Why? Your thoughts in the comments please. ®

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