Disaster Recovery Buyers Guide


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Most people would agree on a definition of what constitutes a disaster. Most would also agree on what “recovery” means. Put those two words together, however, and people start speaking different languages.

Depending on whom you talk to, “disaster recovery” might be software. Then again, it might online backup or backup tapes stored offsite. To some it is replication to a remote data center. For others it is active-active data centers so there is never any service interruption. Some wouldn’t consider a disaster recovery solution complete unless it included mobile workspaces and a shipping container of racked-and-wired servers that could be rolled to the site.

The good part of all this is that, whatever your company considers necessary to recover its own systems from a disaster, some vendor is offering that service. Here are eight firms offering disaster recovery/business continuity (DR/BC) services.

Peak 10

Peak 10, Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., targets mid-market businesses with its Recovery Cloud service. It doesn’t have offerings for PCs or mobile devices, nor does it just replicate customers’ storage, choosing instead to focus on business-critical infrastructure.

Peak 10 has four services customers can use to protect their data and ensure application availability. Recovery Cloud is a fully managed service that is an add-on to a Peak 10 Cloud subscription or used to protect a customer-owned private VMware environment. Replication is done at the hypervisor level, agnostic of the underlying storage. There is complete isolation between customers, and the company never exposes a management interface to the cloud that may put all customers at risk. Peak 10 includes a scheduled testing, runbook maintenance, and ongoing monitoring and management of the protected environment.

“Most companies look at BC/DR preparation as one-time events,” says Ken Seitz, Peak 10’s director of product strategy. “They configure data replication, create a process, and may even do an initial test. Beyond that, it falls into the ‘set it and forget it category.’”

Regular testing very rarely occurs and the process document almost immediately becomes outdated as aspects of the environment continue to evolve and change, so at the time of a disaster there are a number of problems with the failover. Peak 10 avoids this by performing a minimum of two tests at the point of provisioning. The initial is done by the individual(s) drafting the customer-specific runbook and configuring the technology. The second test is done with the customer and other Peak 10 operational team members to validate the runbook. If significant modifications are made during the second test, yet another test is done. After the provisioning period, tests are run a minimum of twice per year.

If a customer isn’t on a VMware based environment, Peak 10 offers a Managed Replication service based on an agent at the operating system or non-VMware hypervisor level that can protect servers and applications. It is managed on a customer-by-customer basis, so it requires a custom SLA dependent on the scope of the environment protected.

Finally, protection can be done at the application level, such as the SQL-as-a-service offering packaged around Microsoft SQL Server 2012, that has business continuity (local, automated failover) and disaster recovery (geographically diverse, manual failover). Additionally, Peak 10 can manage application level BC/DR for dedicated Microsoft application environments including SQL, Exchange and SharePoint.

The Recovery Cloud service provides a 30 minute Recovery Point Objective (RPO), and a one hour Recovery Time Objective (RTO). SQL as a Service includes a 100% availability SLA. Service Level Agreements around Managed Application and Managed Replication offerings are dependent on choices the customer makes about their environments and are thus negotiated individually. Recovery Cloud has three key pricing components: the number of servers being protected, the disk foot print required in the disaster recovery environment, and the cloud compute resources that are used during testing and declaration.

SunGard Availability Services

SunGard Availability Services has been in the DR business since the 1970s and supports over 8,000 customers worldwide from small to medium enterprises all the way up to Fortune 500 companies.

John Paul Blaho, SunGard’s director of product marketing, says that companies are facing three main challenges in the DR/BC area. “Recovery teams are experiencing difficulty in synchronizing their recovery environment to their production environment due to the sheer number of product environment changes,” he says. “Organizations are limited in resources to properly test and manage their recovery program, or lack expertise to support the needs to develop a proper recovery plan, and companies are failing to recover against their mandated recovery objectives during tests or actual declared disasters.”

SunGard has more than 5 million square feet of data center and operations space with advanced HVAC controls, security systems, hardware and software, as well as reliable tape and disk storage and sophisticated networking services. With more than 80 facilities worldwide and more than 30 mobile units, the company provides customers with a range of options for DR/BC.

“Our tiered approach to recovery of applications based on business process criticality provides the flexibility to shift solution mix as business requirements change,” says Blaho. “Customer options include fully-managed backup and recovery, dedicated and cloud-based recovery options, shared recovery options, as well as workforce continuity and software solutions.”

SunGard’s Managed Recovery Program (MRP) provides customized solutions structured around specific business needs and application requirements with SunGard assuming full accountability for the data recovery program and overall disaster recovery management. SunGard assigns a dedicated Service Delivery Manager who has expert knowledge of the customer’s recovery program, including the workflow, timeline and communication procedures. The manager conducts test planning, test execution, test monitoring, post-test reporting, and the post-test reviews.

SunGard’s Recover2Cloud for Server Replication is designed for the most critical applications. Data is replicated from selected production servers to secure cloud infrastructure with near-zero recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives of less than four hours. The service also incorporates Continuous Data Protection to enable recovery to any point in time within several days prior to a failure.

For organizations with large-scale virtual environments, Recover2Cloud for vCenter SRM is a fully managed solution that leverages a customer’s existing storage devices and VMware skill set and so has reduced management costs and pay-as-you-go pricing based on usage.

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