Backup and Disaster Recovery services are probably unique among IT services, in that you have them in the hopes of never needing them. But in an age of sophisticated hackers, increasingly destructive natural disasters and the ever-present risk of human error, the question is not one of if but when you will need business continuity services.
We’ve written about taking a multiplatform infrastructure approach to colocation and cloud and how it’s often the best fit when designing your IT infrastructure from an application-first perspective. But even if you decide to take an all-colo approach to your production deployment, using cloud-based Business Continuity services is still an option you should consider for protecting your critical workloads and data, especially when you can simply add them on to your existing services without having to go to another service provider.
Where to start?
As with any Business Continuity project, you need to first determine your recovery goals. Ask: Do my applications need a zero-downtime solution, or can we tolerate several hours of downtime? Establishing a baseline Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) for critical business systems will create a solid framework that will guide your decisions.
Once recovery goals are established, you then need to look at your production workloads. Are you running your critical systems on physical hardware or virtualized infrastructure? Does your recovery solution support physical, virtual or multiplatform environments? Here, a trusted service provider can also come in handy to make sure you can have a business continuity solution that’s flexible enough for your infrastructure and your needs.
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Protecting workloads on physical infrastructure can be challenging, since backup and recovery solutions can only focus on protection at the operating system level, which is bound to the specific underlying hardware. This means that copying the OS to different hardware can cause problems. Should a custom backup and disaster recovery solution be needed, look for a service provider that has additional capabilities to build out application-specific recovery options. This might take the form of colocating identical storage arrays for array-based replication by using the data replication feature built into many mainstream storage appliances. Or it might be building out custom bare metal infrastructure for Active-Active replication of application data.
The benefits of virtualization are obvious for your applications: Instead of having just one application per server, you can run several guest operating systems and a handful of applications with the same physical hardware. In this way, virtualization offers unprecedented ability to scale and distribute workloads across your infrastructure.
These benefits extend to backups and disaster recovery as well because virtualization allows critical VM data to be restored or replicated to another location completely independently of the underlying hardware. In addition to VM backups powered by companies like Veeam, R1Soft and Commvault, there are other disaster recovery options that your provider may offer as a service. INAP offers Standby DRaaS and Dedicated DRaaS, which protect your critical VM data either in a pay-as-you-go standby state or with dedicated cloud resources for organizations with the strictest business continuity needs.
In an ideal world, all workloads would fit in one bucket or the other. But for most, a multiplatform approach will be the most optimal to achieving the operational and financial goals of any business continuity implementation. For example, a company might have virtualized most of their critical infrastructure but still have a legacy inventory system that needs to stay on physical servers because of technology limitations. A service provider like INAP has the ability to provide the virtual and physical infrastructure, as well as management services needed—all packaged into a multiplatform Disaster Recovery environment. This is why it’s important to work with a service provider that has a multitude of options and expertise in any and all infrastructure solutions, whether colocation, bare metal or private cloud deployments.