Cloud Computing Availability Assurance Buying Guide


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It seems like everyone is running to the cloud. But just how much can you rely on the cloud for truly secure storage?

How much availability can you really expect, regardless of vendor promises? And if things go wrong, how confident are you that you can recover your data in a timely manner?

These questions are the reason for the appearance of cloud availability and disaster recovery (DR) assurance software. This buying guide focuses on the products from VMware (Site Recovery Manager), NetApp (SANscreen), Virtual Instruments (VirtualWisdom), Continuity Software (AvailabilityGuard/Cloud) and VirtualSharp (ReliableDR).

Continuity Software’s AvailabilityGuard/Cloud

IT executives are feeling pressure to deploy a private, public and/or hybrid cloud for their organization. While its benefits are alluring, its risks loom large.

They worry about the potential loss of access to applications or data, and the inability to recover rapidly during a disaster. Concerns over downtime and data loss, then, can sometimes get in the way of cloud deployment.

Enter AvailabilityGuard/Cloud by Continuity Software. While its flagship RecoverGuard focuses on gathering "configuration drift" information from a DR site, AvailabilityGuard/Cloud gathers information from the production infrastructure.

It addresses cross-domain mis-configuration issues in cloud environments that can lead to failures or performance degradation. It also helps eliminate the need for endless spreadsheets as a tool for manually tracking configuration changes.

“AvailabilityGuard/Cloud is a private cloud automated health check solution that detects cross-domain configuration errors across all layers of IT, from the application server to the database, virtual machine (VM), physical infrastructure, SAN, network-attached storage (NAS) and clustering,” said Doron Pinhas, CTO of Continuity Software. “It enables users to automatically discover and eliminate vulnerabilities before they impact the business.”

This is achieved by leveraging Continuity’s Risk Discovery Engine coupled with a continuously updated Risk Signature Knowledgebase of known and emerging private cloud configuration issues. Storage administrators can use it to provide reports and summaries. Pricing starts at $1,000 per physical server.

Pinhas said that many of the leading disk array and replication vendors offer tools for configuration tracking, which tend to be limited to their own platform. VMware’s Site Recovery Manager (SRM), he claimed, does not verify and audit data center configurations and systems from a DR/High Availability (HA) perspective.

He further opined that NetApp’s SANscreen has limited storage platform, database and cluster support. While it monitors SAN performance and redundancy, it does not detect DR gaps from the database through hosts to storage and replication. Similarly, he said that Virtual Instruments is focused on storage network performance monitoring as opposed to private cloud coverage.

“As practically every app server, database, storage, OS, cluster and virtualization vendor is updating or publishing a hefty best practices guide on almost a quarterly basis, organizations are finding themselves unable to follow and confidently implement reliable private cloud infrastructure for business critical applications,” said Pinhas.

AvailabilityGuard/Cloud allows IT to enhance coordination across domains and increase operational efficiency by preventing problems ahead of time rather than firefighting service disruptions.”

VirtualSharp Software’s ReliableDR

There are well-publicized cloud outages just about every month – usually with big-name players in the headlines. Clearly, DR is a mandatory part of business in the cloud, one that requires proper planning and execution.

Yet relatively few companies do DR testing more than once a year, often utilizing a scripted procedure that may have nothing to do with a real disaster.

VirtualSharp ReliableDR is designed to make DR testing a mundane, predictable task handled by software without human intervention. SLAs are tracked, enforced and audited automatically.

“Many organizations want to implement Disaster Recovery (DR) solutions that leverage their virtualization and cloud investments, but find it difficult or complex to deploy,” said Carlos Escapa, CEO of VirtualSharp Software. “Our ReliableDR Free Edition enables users to experiment or put in production replication-based DR at zero cost.”

This free version has a scheduler that can replicate automatically every 48 hours, and can generate a snapshot of up to 10 VMs in the secondary site. These snapshots can be DR tested manually without having to shut down the primary site (VMware vSphere Replication doesn't allow this, noted Escapa; it requires the primary VMs to be shut down before they can be tested).

In addition, the free version can be used for failover and failback to aid in migration success, and can also be used to generate a pre-production environment with fresh data for patch and update testing.

ReliableDR Free Edition is based on VirtualSharp’s Enterprise Edition, which was designed for the private cloud. It is agentless and supports all versions of vSphere. The paid edition lifts the restrictions noted above, supporting both software and array-based replication.

Testing is automatic, so administrators can set recovery policy and let ReliableDR enforce Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and application Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) by running recovery exercises as often as needed by the line of business, in some cases once every few hours or every day. It is replication- and hardware-agnostic.

“VirtualSharp is the only company that measures and reports service resilience in private clouds for any workloads running virtualized,” said Escapa. “It does so through multi-data center recovery orchestration, which constantly certifies successful recovery outcomes or reports compliance threats based on business rules aligned with DR policy.’

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