By Jeff Whitaker, Sr. Cloud Solutions Marketing Manager, NetApp & Yaron Haimsohn, Cloud Solution Architect, NetApp
Disaster recovery (DR) planning was once considered a luxury, available only to companies with huge budgets. That is no longer the case. Today, a DR plan is considered a must-have by all organizations. Yet simply having a DR plan isn’t enough. You must test the plan to make sure it works, and testing can lead to application downtime, which disrupts operations. This post covers a few tactics for streamlining the DR testing process so that your recovery plan is strong and doesn’t interrupt the flow of business.
Some organizations have DR plans in place but are terrified to test them. In a 2014 survey of 400 IT professionals in the UK, 17% of respondents were afraid to put their DR plans to the test because of the possibility of prolonged downtime.
Cloud-based DR is an excellent solution for avoiding network downtime. Cloud-based DR means that physical and virtual servers are replicated off site to the cloud. This service brings environments back online without the need to restore computing power, which enables organizations to continue operating.
Estimates of the cost of downtime vary widely. A 2013 survey by the Ponemon Institute appraised the cost of a minute of downtime at $7,900; IDC’s 2014 report assessed the cost of the same amount of time at $1,666. Even at the cheapest estimate, no company can afford even 60 seconds’ worth of downtime.
Testing in a temporary environment means that your live environment remains unaffected. The testing team configures the temporary environment to mimic an emergency situation. The risk of testing in a temporary environment is that you might miss an important step because you’re not really experiencing a disaster. It is crucial to make the temporary environment as realistic as possible so that you don’t skip over something that could happen in an actual calamity.
The term “unified storage” refers to a storage system that makes it possible to run and manage different storage entities or protocols from one device. Unified storage offers the enterprise advantages over separate products. First, there are fewer hardware requirements. Unified storage doesn’t rely on separate storage platforms. Also, unified storage is easier for IT administrators to manage because it’s a single product. Finally, unified storage can enable failover testing without costly network downtime.
Since its introduction, unified storage has evolved dramatically. Many companies trust it for all types of storage, including server and desktop virtualization, general-purpose file services, and enterprise applications. Some unified storage solutions offer a range of options for business continuity. Depending on the vendor, IT administrators might have the option to instantaneously mirror to another data center or mirror periodically.
NetApp builds its DR solutions on the NetApp® Data ONTAP® operating system, an enterprise-capable unified scale-out storage system. The Data ONTAP operating system enables IT administrators to leverage their DR infrastructure to perform failover testing without downtime. With this solution, testing teams no longer have to sacrifice business continuity to ensure that their DR solution is robust— they get the best of both worlds.
If you would like more information on saving costs while preparing your business for disaster, check out our white paper “Budgeting for a Disaster: 7 Cost-Savings Tips for Disaster Recovery.”