Virtualization strategies for disaster recovery?

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I invite all of you to discuss the following subject.

The virtualization of IT environments today is the main subject in a great range of companies around the world.
This is one of the most quoted IT solution for a great range of companies, more specifically for their 2009 budget.
Regardless of the reason for the investment of virtual environments, nowadays  some companies are utilizing virtualization in their alternative sites, therefore the strategies of DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) are changing. Based on these facts,  lets open a discussion group about the following question:

How are virtual environments being utilized as strategies for disaster recovery and/or BCP?

10 respostas em “Virtualization strategies for disaster recovery?

  1. From Rainer Gerhards – LINKEDIN – Information Security Community

    Chief Software Architect, Adiscon
    Speaking for ourselfs, a small company: we are moving towards virtual environments not only in order to consolidate systems, but also because it is much easier to move over functionality from a failed system to another. Some of the functions (like mail gateway, firewall etc) do not even require state data, so they can simply be restored by using a generic template virtual machine. Instantiating this is much quicker then building a machine with scripts from scratch, not to mention that we do not need to have the hardware in stock. In fact, we think about moving such functionality even to data center servers and thus be able to quickly switch between them if there is need to.

  2. From: Shabbir Nalwala – LINKEDIN – Information Security Community

    If I understand your question properly, you want to know how does the virtualization helps in DR or BCP ?

    If so, the simple reason to go with virtualization for a DR site is reduced costs and manageability (reduced TCO) and reduced downtime (plannd and unplanned), besides other advantages like space savings, less power requirements, etc.

    We have just started having our DR site and the implementation is still going on. For us to go with the virtualization was for a simple reasons stated above. We wanted to have minimal downtime with minimal TCO.

    If you need more information, pls drop me a mail separately and I may be able to help you further.

    Regards,
    Shabbir

  3. From: Marco Antonio Ribeiro – LINKEDIN – Information Security Community

    I agree with Shabbir.
    Almost projects that I´ve done including DR sites are using virtualization, and the reason to use this solution is to reduce costs, make management easy and meet the desired ROI.
    We have some great solutions for virtualization which make it an interesting solution for either Production or DR sites.

    Marco

  4. From: Craig Morea – LINKEDIN – Information Security Community

    The warning I will post is: Beware of performance with servers that usually have high disk I/O or high NIC traffic. I have tried to run SQL and Oracle on a VM and it runs, but not NEARLY as fast as on a physical. I seen a 25-40% decrease in performance

  5. From: David Pape – LINKEDIN – Information Security Community

    Agreed, it’s probably not a good idea to virtualize large, highly-active database servers at this point in time. I’m sure that as virtualization and grid deployments evolve, we will eventually see increased performance for high network/disk I/O in a virtual environment.

    Virtualization helps attain business continuity at a lower cost. You can acheive almost any level of fault tolerance you desire simply by throwing hardware at the issue. In the case of VMs, you just throw much less hardware at the problem.

    I believe that the benefits of virtualization can be neatly summed up as follows:

    1. Deployment of virtual machines to your infrastructure allows you to increase the utilization of your hardware, and get rid of other mostly-idle hardware, and the costs associated with the space and power required for that hardware.

    If all of your physical infrastructure is sitting at 80%+ utilization, Virtualization probably isn’t a viable solution for consolidation. If the majority of your infrastructure sits at 5-15% utilization, you should probably virtualize.

    2. Virtual machines, when done right, can eliminate downtime of critical resources due to planned hardware maintenance, and can reduce downtime due to failed patches/upgrades. Looking at VMWare, for example, 2 features best address these concerns: VMotion and Snapshots.

    3. Disaster recovery is really tied to your DR plan. Virtualization can make infrastructure deployments in multiple locations more cost-effective, and thus easier to sell to upper management.

    The ability of most virtualization technologies to create “templates” of virtual machines can also help here, so long as those templates are kept current. Virtualization isn’t going to help too much with keeping rapidly changing, dynamic data synced between datacenter locations, so that has to be considered, but less-often changed/updated applications can be kept templatized, allowing you to bring those up very quickly should a primary datacenter wink out of existence.

    From my perspective, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity can really be broken down into a simple 3-piece layout:

    1. Have all of your data in more than one location.
    2. Maintain, or be able to rapidly produce the infrastructure to support that data in more than one location.
    3. Maintain the ability to quickly change what the world sees as your primary data location.

    Virtualization doesn’t necessarily help with number 1 or 3, however it can be a key element in number 2.

    Item number 1 will likely tie back into offsite backups, SAN data replication, or database servers that sync across your global VPN.

    Item number 3 is most likely going to tie into global IP load balancing, or manual intervention in the event of a failure.

    Of course, this is all just my perspective on the issue. I’m interested to see what everyone else is going to contribute to this discussion.

  6. From: Chuan-Wei Hoo – BCMI Forum – BC and DR Discussions

    Virtualisation – an innovative way to address capex and opex issues.

    Before even attempting to start, should we not consider the governing factors to this new strategy? Have we looked at regulatory compliance/requirement? ….especially in the banking industry.

  7. From: Ron LaPedis – BCMI Forum – BC and DR Discussions

    Virtualization is all the rage this year, whether it is for load balancing and performance, high availability, or to lower development and operational costs. However, virtualization tends to remain within the same data center, which is severely limiting.

    Some suggest that virtualization can help with your business continuity program since your primary and backup data centers can run disparate hardware with the virtualization layer hiding that difference from the hardware. Through the use of clustered computing, load-balancing appliances, data replication, and remote access technologies, your Recovery Time Objective (downtime) can be brought to zero and your Recovery Point Objective (data loss) minimized.

    Geographically Dispersed Virtualization (GDV) can not only move your data and processing power closer to your customers, but it can also provide the foundation for continuous availability of your applications – ensuring no downtime in the event of an infrastructure failure.

    There are two basic ways to virtualize an operating system — native or hosted. A native or bare-metal hypervisor is software that runs directly on a given hardware platform (as an operating system control program). A guest operating system thus runs at the second level above the hardware. A hosted hypervisor is software that runs within an operating system environment. A “guest” operating system thus runs at the third level above the hardware.

    Desktop virtualization or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) provides a personalized PC desktop experience to the end user while allowing the IT department to centrally run and manage the desktops. Desktop virtualization is an extension of the thin client model and provides a ‘desktop as a service.’

    The user does not know and does not care where their desktop is running. They access it through a ‘window’, which may be a specialized client or web browser. In fact, depending on the security policy they may be able to access their desktop from anywhere using any device, even one that is not compatible with the desktop OS being served.

    Teleworking can be thought of as virtualizing your workforce. Just as a virtualized OS is tricked into thinking that it is running on the right hardware, your employees can be tricked into thinking that they are in the office. In both cases, the right functionality is provided to the object being virtualized to allow it to function normally. In the case of your employees, this means that they need the tools to communicate, collaborate, and access applications and information just as if they were in the office.

    By combining all of the pieces described above, you can achieve 100% business process uptime no matter what happens. Whether it is a transit strike, white out conditions from a winter storm, a major disaster, or an avian flu pandemic, your business processes will survive. The key to this is Geographically Dispersed Virtualization (GDV). Not only do you modularize and virtualize your processing environment, but you geographically distribute it as well. If one site goes down for any reason you jettison lower priority environments and bring up critical environments in a different data center.

    In addition to putting your data on a SAN (storage area network), you need to ensure that critical information on the SAN is replicated to one or more backup sites so that it is available when the backup environments are brought up.

    By splitting your processing load across multiple data centers, the failure of one doesn’t make the service unavailable, it just slows it down until additional environments are brought up in a surviving data center. Additionally by analyzing where your traffic is coming from, you can locate data centers closer to your customers thereby lowering latency and increasing application responsiveness.

    I described teleworking as virtualizing your employees. If your employees are already teleworking, you have a head start on your business continuity plan. Since they can work from anywhere while still being able to communicate, collaborate, and access applications and information, they can continue to be productive in almost any circumstance. And since your data processing is geographically dispersed they can continue working even if the local data center is offline for any reason.

    But what if something like a regional power outage, hurricane, or earthquake takes your workers offline? Sinceyou have virtualized your data processing environment and understand the priority of your business processes, cross-trained employees in other locations can jettison those that are less critical and take over the more critical ones from the affected group.

    Conclusion

    By virtualizing your entire environment from systems to storage to applications to operating systems to desktops to your workers you have not only made your organization more resilient, but you can substantially lower your real estate, electrical, and support costs and shrink your carbon footprint. Employees may be happier with higher morale and a better work-life balance. You can deliver better response time to your customers and survive local or regional outages.

    This is not going to be an overnight change – in fact it could take several years. But a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, and a fully virtualized company can start with one teleworker using a single virtual desktop.

  8. From: Michael Woodcock – Linkedin – Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Consultants

    We have been using virtualisation as part of DR strategies for some time, the two key areas are:

    If the production environment is not virtualised you can use the P 2 V tools to virtualise DR very successfully.

    If the client has a virtualised environment then you can architecture a solution with Site recovery manager from VMware.

    Virtualisation of the DR infrastructure except some key hardware like Active Directory and backup catalogue. This can be designed regardless of whether the client has a virtualised Production environment.

  9. First, all is correct. But “virtualization strategies” is not about “Disaster Recovery”, and yes about economy, and how i can consolidate my data center.

    “Consolidate” not is a one more “cliché” for green flag, it really work and by that is a strategy that has been used successfully.

    Using virtualization you should modify your “risk management plan”, because many product do not be interoperable and not exist vendor-neutral solution.

    The unique possibility is foment the rfc standard for virtualization.

    Regards,

  10. From:andrew872962 – yahoo groups – continuity@yahoogroups.com

    Great topic! Here we go with a few recovery options.

    Even though I am no expert in virtualisation, the way in which organisations are improving
    their reliance is changing significantly from the traditional DR methods. Of course at the
    end of the day it really comes down to business requirements, budgets, legislation and
    how much down time a business can sustain. Virtualisation reduces recovery time
    objective and provides a host of other benifits.

    What are the benifits?

    Virtualised Infrastructures provide built-in management, resource optimisation,
    application availability and operational automation capabilities – delivering transformative
    cost savings and increased operational efficiency, flexibility and service levels.

    Single Host

    With a single host running VMware ESX, with multiple virtual machines sitting on local disk
    there is no high availability, DRS or vmotion capabilities. So in the event of a hardware
    failure, all the virtual machines are affected.

    1. Adam Continuity can Provide a DR server in the case of a hardware failure
    2. Restore virtual machines from a backup and reinstall ESX
    3. Replicate with third party software to sister site or Adam Continuity data centre.
    4. Easy to recover if virtual center is running as operating system templates can be used
    to easily deploy new virtual machines.

    Dual or multiple host recovery

    With two hosts or more it’s a bit more tricky, as the high availability DRS and vmotion
    options are in place, this means that if one ESX host fails or needs maintenance the virtual
    machines will continue to run, then automatically vmotion’s the virtual machines to
    another host with no downtime.

    1. Provide DR hosts in the case of both hosts or all hosts fail
    2. Provide replicated san solution
    3. Provide fibre fabric and switches
    4. Site recovery manager for ESX, site to site DR & replication identical hosts and san at
    each end.

    Disaster Recovery Management

    • Create and manage recovery plans directly from VMware VirtualCenter.
    • Discover and display virtual machines protected by storage replication using
    integrations certified by storage vendors.
    • Extend recovery plans with custom scripts.
    • Monitor availability of remote site and alert users of possible site failures.
    • Store, view and export results of test and failover execution from VirtualCenter.
    • Control access to recovery plans with granular role-based access controls.

    Non-Disruptive Testing

    • Use storage snapshot capabilities to perform recovery tests without losing replicated
    data.
    • Connect virtual machines to an existing isolated network for testing purposes.
    • Automate execution of tests of recovery plans.
    • Customize execution of recovery plans for testing scenarios.
    • Automate cleanup of testing environments after completing tests.

    Automated Failover

    • Initiate recovery plan execution from VirtualCenter with a single button.
    • Automate promotion of replicated datastores for recovery using adapters created by
    leading storage vendors for their replication platforms.
    • Execute user-defined scripts and pauses during recovery.
    • Reconfigure virtual machines’ IP addresses to match network configuration at failover
    site.
    • Manage and monitor execution of recovery plans within VMware VirtualCenter.

    Any comments?

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