Disaster Recovery Looms Large at SNW


All systems were go at the Storage Networking World conference in Orlando, Fla. this week, with more than 1,000 attendees arriving before Hurricane Wilma roared through the southern part of the state.

Not surprisingly, a big focus of the conference was on disaster recovery, with a keynote on "Handling the Hurricanes" from Dan Agronow, the Weather Channel Interactive's vice president of technology. Agronow offered some reflections on previous Florida hurricanes that prompted a transformation of weather.com from a single point of failure site to a multiple network, telecommunications and server vendor-supported site that handled millions of requests for information on Hurricane Katrina.

With many Florida companies attending, there was also timely information on the latest disaster-related data center glitches. A legal firm CIO on Wednesday lamented the fact that two of his south Florida data centers were still down. More than ever, he said, his central focus is business continuity.

A number of conference attendees were in agreement that improving disaster recovery processes is a top priority, but one not necessarily shared at all levels of the organization. Asked what projects have been cost-justified by executives but not necessarily approved, 55% of end users polled at the conference pointed to business continuity and disaster recovery projects.

The SNIA End User Council (www.snia.org/euc) also touched on disaster recovery in a preview of its 2005 survey results, stating that 51% of respondents highlighted data recovery and business continuity as an important issue in their organizations.

A survey conducted by the Data Management Institute and Toigo Partners International found that more emphasis is now placed on achieving recovery objectives than on simple data protection. Bud Broomhead, senior vice president of business development at Topio, who released the survey data, confirmed that there was a clear shift in thinking among respondents away from a traditional backup and restore and toward effective disaster recovery. "More than half of the respondents said their top priority was to either implement or improve on the time needed to recover key applications and data in the event of a disaster," said Broomhead.

Data protection across the entire company environment was a theme of several company announcements, with remote (asynchronous) replication seen as an important area. Topio demonstrated its Data Protection Suite that maintains a 100% replica of source data that enabled recovery in minutes and the ability to freeze point-in-time copies. Kashya promoted its appliance offering replication and data protection over distance, emphasizing its ability to deliver local and remote continuous data protection and instant recovery from any failure across a heterogeneous network.

If 2005 was the year of disaster recovery in general, 2006 may be the year of continuous data protection (CDP). The SNW Interoperability and Solutions demo lab data management area featured a hypothetical company integrating CDP to backup without impacting revenue-generating applications.

Lab participant Revivio integrated its enterprise CDP solution that eliminated the time and recovery window required for backups and instantly restored data to any point or event in time. TimeSpring focused on CDP for Microsoft Exchange Servers, showing a system that continuously captured all Exchange data as it changed, allowing administrators to rapidly recover lost, corrupt or deleted emails.

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