Success vs. Tradition: How to Ensure IT Service Continuity and Disaster Recovery

My family has a variety of traditions from who makes desert on Thanksgiving to where we have Christmas dinner. However, sometimes life happens and traditions need to be relaxed or changed permanently or for a period of time. By itself there is nothing wrong with tradition if it is not hurting or oppressing someone or something. But when acts or practices start to move in that direction one needs to really stop, think, and make some changes. Just because something is tradition it doesn’t make it right or the only way to do things. I have worked in technology for over twenty years and I have participated in and have seen traditions practiced in the realm of information technology that don’t yield the desired results but change doesn’t occur because well “that is how we have always done it”. Successful Business and/or Service Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan execution is one of those realms. Let me explain.
 

Tradition has taught us that Native Service Continuity & Disaster Recovery (SC/DR) tools are good enough.

  • Enterprise Data Centers typically have five or more SC/DR tools e.g. MSFoC, RHEC, Vmware HA, PowerHA, & storage replication (True Copy, SRDF…SnapMirror) to name a few.

Outages have taught us that Native SC/DR tools don’t measure up to a solution.

  • The tools mentioned above create silos that require human/manual intervention to overcome
  • 32% of organizations test their DR plans only once or twice per year.
  • 65% of organizations that do test their plans FAIL their own tests!
  • 43% find compliance reporting overly difficult, manual, & expensive.

Success has taught us at Veritas that an effective SC/DR strategy requires synergy between people, process, & technology. We have seen over again to achieve this synergy requires Simplicity, Automation, & Predictability. Veritas Information Availability solutions can help organizations achieve this kind of success when executing their SC/DR strategy. 

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  • People Need Simplicity. The more you can simplify a task or tasks the more you increase the chance for success. Why use five or more SC/DR point tools that don’t talk to each other when you can use one proven solution that supports Windows, Linux, Unix, Virtualization, & Storage Replication? Veritas Information Availability solutions simplify the orchestration of recovery from failure via a centralized console.

  • Processes Need Automation. The more manual intervention required to execute a SC/DR plan the greater chance there will be mistakes and failure. Today’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) environments for example consist of multiple processing tiers e.g. database (Unix), application (Linux), & web (Windows) that need to be online to considered fully functional. Using native point solutions within these tiers at times require manual intervention to recover the EHR service when a tier fails. With Veritas because we can run on & support all the major OSs & applications, we can then automate the recovery of a failed tier.

  • Technology Needs to Deliver Predictability. According to “The State of Global Disaster Recovery Preparedness” survey, among those polled only 32% test their DR plans once or twice per year. In my various discussions with customers over the years the main culprit for such a low number is that testing causes downtime. This is unacceptable because downtime can adversely impact patient care, cost money, & damage reputations. With Veritas organizations have the ability to test their strategy without causing downtime. In addition, we allow for compliance reporting within the solution to prove not only that you have tested but also the results of the test.

 

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Case and Point: We have a customer who had an issue of recovering a critical service efficiently and in a timely manner. This service was responsible for billions in revenue and when it went down a huge financial hit was felt. The environment consisted of Windows, AIX, Linux, Vmware, & IBM storage. It was configured to run locally as well as failover to their secondary data center in the event of a catastrophic failure.


Our customer had no centralized visibility across the infrastructure, minimum real time monitoring, & alerting across the both physical and virtual environments. Due to the heterogeneity of the environment there were separate teams that managed each tier. Each team operated in a silo therefore devising its own separate recovery plan specific to their application. These recovery plans consisted of native point tools, scripts, & manual intervention. The end result was high Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), high Operating Expenditures (OPEX), & inability to meet their defined Recovery Time Objectives (RTO). In fact, when they experienced an event it took them 48 minutes, 12 people, & 55 different clicks/steps to recover. Base on the defined RTO & RPO objectives this was unacceptable. 


After deploying Veritas Information Availability e.g. InfoScale, they gained centralized visibility, real-time monitoring, & alerting across the entire environment. By applying the practices of simplification, automation, & predictability they were able to reduce recovery time to 8 minutes, reduce the number of people needed to execute failover to 1, & reduce the number of clicks/steps to 4. The end result is a lower TCO, OPEX, & the ability to meet defined RTO/RTOs. This is an example of success. This is an example of an organization achieving synergy between people, process, & technology when executing their SC/DR strategy. Your organization can achieve the same because this is not an isolated example. Veritas Technologies has been helping the Fortune 500 achieve their continuity & recovery requirements for nearly two decades. For more information go to https://www.veritas.com/product/business-continuity .

 

If you’re a Healthcare organization, Veritas Technologies will be at HIMSS 2017 in Orlando, FL. Feb. 19 – 23, 2017 so please stop by our booth 2493. There will also be four more Blogs covering subjects such as Veritas Information Governance, Information Protection, and Information Availability.