Freedom from Continuity Captivity

Lee Exall, Director, Capital Continuity
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Lee Exall, Director, Capital Continuity

We’ve come a long way since the days when you couldn’t transfer a file from a Mac to a PC, or smart phone applications were designed only for either Android or iOS—rarely both. In the world of disaster recovery, however, enterprises are still held to old-school, inflexible configurations of computing platforms, storage subsystems, and hardware devices when they’re looking to migrate data from one physical or virtual environment to another. Service providers lock clients in to specific set-ups of servers and hypervisors, swearing that it’s the only way to maintain continuity of data protection and recovery.

But we live in a world in which flexibility is not only increasingly desirable; it’s critical to business operations. Businesses should have the ability to free themselves from the restrictive infrastructure designs most service providers offer, and they’re beginning to demand it at ever-higher levels. Why should enterprises be forced to choose between high-level data integrity and storage-subsystem independence? In order to satisfy a business world that wants what they want, when they want it, MSPs need to look for disaster recovery partners that can easily and cost-effectively integrate their software with a wide array of platforms and storage system options—without compromising the availability or consistency of the data they’re supposed to be protecting.

A Double-Edged Sword

According to CRN’s recent ‘Reseller Attitudes to Backup and Recovery Solutions Report,’ about 70 percent of resellers say that in addition to trying to engineer a seamless transition between cloud environments, one of their biggest concerns is safeguarding their data across all physical and virtual environments and devices. They have to ensure the integrity of the data and also eliminate any downtime. If they fail in either area, it inconveniences and irritates customers and employees while negatively impacting the brand.

In our constantly connected culture, businesses can’t afford to lose access to their data and applications. Real-time replication and instant mobilization are paramount concerns in a world where losing even minutes of data can be catastrophic to operations and reputation. MSPs are looking for more from Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solutions to help address these challenges.

“In our constantly connected culture, businesses can’t afford to lose access to their data and applications”

In addition to traditional data disaster recovery, DRaaS must evolve to meet the need for flexible and consistent business continuity. This includes cross-cloud migrations, and an agnostic approach to system vendors. Providers need to have the ability to migrate Linux, mid-range UNIX and Windows environments, replicating entire operating system applications and databases to any new environment so seamlessly that the end-user is none the wiser.

The New World of Disaster Recovery

It’s a new challenge for DRaaS, which has traditionally been marketed as a recovery tool for critical data in case of a catastrophe. But according to Gartner, we’re slowly seeing an evolution take place where DRaaS moves to a more complete managed availability solution. In its Cool Vendors in Business Continuity Management and IT Disaster Recovery Management, 2015 report, Gartner recommends that MSPs select a DRaaS partner that can provide a high level of data protection and consistency while offering flexibility in the choice of storage vendor, hypervisor or physical and virtual environments.

The technology is here; it’s just still catching on. MSPs that want to stay competitive have to address disaster recovery and managed availability as inextricably linked by sourcing DRaaS partners that can meet the “instant gratification” expectations of users in addition to recovering data after a complete system failure. Service providers have to be able to offer solutions to quickly respond to disruptions of any size and have systems operational in moments, avoiding those dreaded scenarios where the unavailability of data impacts their customers, employees and bottom line. They need to find DRaaS partners with solutions that deliver real-time replication across all environments—whether on-premise, cloud or a hybrid—regardless of the storage or hypervisor vendors in place.

If there’s one thing we’ve lost patience with in the last couple of decades, it’s being told there’s no way to make our myriad technologies work together. As Gartner rightly explains, we’re entering a period when enterprises are trying to upgrade their data centers with solutions that provide independence in their IT infrastructure. MSPs that can offer their customers replication and migration in any computing environment will have a clear advantage over their competitors.

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