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Leveraging Cloud and Virtualization for Disaster Recovery

February 12, 2013 No Comments

Given recent natural disasters that struck the United States (see Super Storm Sandy) and other parts of the world, disaster recovery has become an increasingly hot topic among IT administrators.

After disaster strikes, regardless of its origin, IT administrators spend countless hours following complex steps, complete with reboots, to get their enterprises back up and running. In terms of dollars and cents, only a few hours of downtime can cost companies millions.

With cloud computing, more users and an increase in data bring with it the extra challenges associated with disaster recovery and business continuity. All distributed systems have to be checked and the data points must all be monitored. In working with these more complex data centers, many administrators are turning to the cloud and virtualization to help them create a more robust DR plan, according to an article on

Cloud and virtualization can be leveraged for disaster recovery in the following ways:

Cloud for replication. Site-to-site replication has become easier with the utilization of both private and public cloud technologies. With better storage systems and more control over the WAN, organizations are able to better replicate their environments. This can be entire virtual machines, specific databases or just data points. Furthermore, cloud computing has made disaster recovery much more financially feasible for more organizations. Why? The inherent flexibility of the cloud means you can dictate exactly how much downtime your organization can tolerate and where the costs break even.

Virtualization as a mechanism for backup and recovery. The idea is simple. It’s much easier to recover a virtual machine than it is a physical device. So, administrators with numerous VMs in their environment are working with virtualization-ready backup strategies to keep their data centers agile.

Using software-defined technologies. The conversation around software-defined technologies continues to grow where some see this term as an extension to virtualization. Software-defined platforms can range from networking equipment to security appliances. The idea is to create a truly agile environment where various “virtual” networking instances can be deployed.

IaaS or “Data Center On-Demand.” Cloud and virtualization platforms now allow for the very fast provisioning of needed resources. In a disaster scenario, the ability to recovery VMs and data, quickly, is essential. This is where cloud computing and virtualization can help. Administrators are able to create active/active or active/passive IaaS solutions which can be very cost-effective. For example, an engineer can set a backup cycle with a given provider. That information is then housed in the form of dormant VMs and backup data. Then, if an emergency happens – the organization can ask the provider to immediately spin up new VMs and attach their data to the newly provisioned environment.

A well-planned out cloud and virtualization solution can truly help any organization create a more agile environment. There are inherent benefits to working with specific types of cloud models and virtualization platforms. A large part of IT is creativity – that’s why using new types of technologies can help reduce management costs and keep an environment running longer.

Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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