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A Guide To Virtualised Disaster Recovery


What is Virtualization?

To begin with; what is virtualization? Virtualization is the method by which a hardware or software platform is virtualized: i.e. a virtual form of it is created. This can be the operating system, storage, program etc. It is used by companies or organisations to reduce their total costs, improve energy and environmental efficiency, and to utilize the world of cloud computing.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery, in the world of computers and information technology, are the plans and processes implemented for the recovery or perpetuation of the technical infrastructure of a private or government organisation should a natural or anthropogenic disaster occur. Traditional disaster recovery usually involves backing up data and other files and creating copies of them for on and off site storage. The increasing prevalence of the cloud in computing has led to off site storage in servers that are often hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Real world disaster situations include weather disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, storms etc. Both state and private sector organisations are incredibly reliant on information technology, so a system of disaster recovery is essential: for example, in the event of a potential storm or flood, IT systems organised barriers and defenses.  If the main system fails, disaster will ensue. A virtualized system will have back up mechanisms ready to perform the important disaster prevention tasks.
More information about Disaster Recovery can be found on Wikipedia.

Virtualised Disaster Recovery

This brings us to the question of how a virtualized system of disaster recovery is beneficial to the organisation that utilizes it. The benefits of cloud computing are obvious: it increases organisation efficiency and reduces total cost of ownership by migrating their software and data to off-site servers which are always accessible with internet or intranet access. These benefits are similar to those of a virtualized system of disaster recovery. In traditional disaster recovery implementations, the backed up data is moved from its off-site location to the disaster recovery point, so it can be re-installed on new hardware. The negatives of this should be obvious: transportation of files takes time, as does installation. With a virtualized system, however, a system that used to take days now only takes hours. Indeed, the whole implementation is a set process that automatically occurs upon a disaster situation. There is no need for specific employees to know specific protocols as all the backed up data is on a remote server, just waiting to be downloaded.

Benefits of Virtualised Disaster Recovery

As stated above, the most obvious benefit of a system of virtualized disaster recovery (VDR) is the efficiency with which information and data can be recovered. Unlike traditional disaster recovery, which relies on human inputs, VDR is almost an algorithmic mechanism requiring virtually no human input.

1) Virtualisation offers simplicity. As Microsoft advises: the loss of an off-site server or the complete shut-down of an organisation’s IT infrastructure and architecture is a catastrophe. In Disaster Recovery, a virtualised system has a copy of your data stored as backup. Redundancies are built into a VDR system. In IT, redundancy simply means back-up resources are used in case the main system fails. For example, and this is relevant to virtualisation, a RAID system. RAID is an acronym that stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. It is a sophisticated piece of storage hardware in which multiple disc drives are built in case one of the main drives fails. This is redundancy being built into the hardware. This is similar to VDR, because of the server or hardware fails, redundancy initializes and the backed up data is available elsewhere.

2) Replication of your system within the cloud. Virtualisation involves servers and desktops and everything in between: you can have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of operating systems within one virtual environment. If your main IT infrastructure is rendered inoperable by a disaster, having access to a secondary installation of your hardware and software is vital. The cloud allows you to access these mirror systems from anywhere around the world provided you have an internet connection: the implications for productivity and efficiency should be obvious.

Technologies for Virtualised Disaster Recovery

The most prominent providers of virtualisation technologies are perhaps VMware, Citrix and Microsoft themselves. Each provides a specific virtualised disaster recovery plan. Using software like VMware gives you access to vSphere, which is VMware’s cloud based virtual operating system: with this you can have an automated rapid recovery system; constant testing and backing up of data and files and an affordable price. Using vSphere as the foundation of your virtual disaster recovery system offers several advantages:

Encapsulation: your hardware, software and programmes are all saved as virtual machine files which can be replicated in the event of a disaster

By having virtual machine files independent of your main hardware infrastructure, you can reduce costs by relying on less expensive server hardware

Hardware can be consolidated and your total cost of ownership reduced as less expensive hardware is required.

Most IT Services Organisations like Our IT Department offer Virtual DR Solutions to their clients. If you are looking to implement a disaster recovery solution then your IT Support Provider is the best place to start, if you don’t outsource then hit google and search for some generic terms.

Citrix is a company that utilises the cloud for the implementation of hardware and software virtualisation. Their main selling point is the flexibility afforded to the customer by the cloud. All of your hardware and software can be replicated within the cloud: the utilisation of economies of scale and the reduction of total cost of ownership. As previously mentioned, within the cloud, your disaster recovery mechanisms can be accessed from anywhere in the world provided one has internet access.

Summary

A virtualised system of disaster recovery provides many advantages of traditional, mechanistic forms of disaster recovery. It is flexible and provides the customer with access to their available data should a disaster occur.

Statistics show that 1 in 500 data centres will experience a disaster. An even more remarkable statistic shows that 43% of companies that experience a disaster recovery situation will be closed permanently, and 29% will close down within two years. By reducing an organisation’s dependence on hardware, a DR solution is much easier to implement because it nullifies the need for human interaction with the mechanisms. As mentioned earlier, it is a very effective algorithm. Virtual data systems are much more portable and easier to transfer than physical server farms, which are location bound. In the event of a disaster at one of your servers, the virtual files can easily be transferred to a more secure server. Also, with traditional disaster recovery, the downtime of one’s IT infrastructure can be weeks long, and sometimes months. This is unacceptable if a serious medical emergency, such as a pandemic has occurred, and the hardware is incapable of coping. A virtualised system reduces this downtime to hours, and in some cases, minutes!

A virtualised system of disaster recovery provides the organisation with an efficient IT architecture and infrastructure through which your automatic data recovery occurs.

A comprehensive guide to Virutlised Disaster Recovery. What is virtualization? What are the benefits of using a virtualized disaster recovery solution? What technologies are involved?


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A Guide To Virtualised Disaster Recovery

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