Four DR plan tips for virtualized environments

The DR plan for virtualized environments needs special attention. Here are four tips to optimize your DR plan for complexities arising from virtualization.

The increasing adoption of virtualization among Indian organizations is beginning to have a significant impact on data center disaster recovery (DR) plans. The management of disparate virtual, physical and cloud resources results in added complexity for protecting and recovering mission-critical applications and data. Here are few essential facets to look at while optimizing data center DR plans.

1. Re-evaluate factors:

In a traditional data center (non-virtualized) applications run on a physical infrastructure and the data generated is also present on a single monolith, which may be in a client-server architecture or some other specific environment. Data protection, backup policies or DR plans and the various tools for data protection and disaster recovery in the physical world are easily definable. However, in a virtual environment the physical box remains the same, but there are multiple operating systems running on it. The tools required to manage virtualized environments in a data center vary greatly, depending on the virtualization technology being deployed – for instance technology that is native to a particular OS needs to be handled differently from situations wherein there are added layers from Microsoft, VMware or XEN. The tools will be quite different for basic data protection to meet SLAs required by a business. While looking at a comprehensive data center DR plan for a virtualized environment, organizations should re-evaluate people, processes and toolsets that will keep their infrastructure up and running.  

2.  Mission-critical applications:

 Indian enterprises are adopting new technologies such as virtualization and the cloud to reduce costs. As part of this, businesses are adding more complexity to their DR environments when it comes to the mission-critical applications layer.

 The virtualization trend first took off in the test and development environment because of the agility it brought to the process (agility of provisioning, de-provisioning and allocating resources). As server virtualization technology began to mature, organizations started to add mission-critical applications to the mix. At this stage, most users chose the database layer, where the actual transaction processing load, I/O or system requirements came in. Virtualization was confined to the physical layer, primarily to ease management, data delivery and meet SLAs.  Today, organizations are looking at putting the application layer or Web-facing layers onto a virtualized environment. From a DR plan perspective, the application must run 24/7, for which failover at the DR site is a must. While executing a failover, components of bandwidth, database, network, server, and processor should be taken care of in the DR plan.  

3. Reducing downtime:

The most important aspect while optimizing the data center DR plan for a virtualized environment is to treat an application in its entirety. Instead of breaking down the DR plan into layers, look at an application or set of applications that are interdependent on each other across physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure in terms of DR assessment and planning. Secondly, DR drills should be carried out regularly (once a month). Thirdly, one should embrace certain low-impact backup technologies within the environment. Data growth, budget pressure, rising service-level requirements, and new technologies like virtualization strain the capabilities of traditional backup and recovery processes. Even as storage prices drop, storage management grows more complex. Backup and archiving processes must address these issues using the most cost-effective technology, without introducing unacceptable risks or compromising business effectiveness.

4. Put policies in place: 

 Define a universal set of policies that cover three mega-trends -- providing mobility to the customers; application provisioning on multiple devices; and the cloud -- for ideal optimization of the DR plan in a virtualized environment. Make sure these policies are available to stakeholders in an automated fashion, to minimize the chances of human error and process failure.

About the author: Anand Naik handles technology sales at Symantec for India & SAARC regions. He is responsible for planning and execution of pre-sales, technical consulting and architecture support.

(As told to Jasmine Desai)


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