Midmarket companies need to have a DR strategy and test it regularly

Mid-market business decision makers understand the importance of keeping their information systems up and running and yet, they may not have heard of the phrases "disaster recovery," "disaster avoidance," or "business continuity" that are being bandied about by suppliers of products and services. Because they understand the need, but don't always understand all of the ramifications of the solutions being offered, some become paralized and do nothing and others do something, but aren't sure that they've done the right things.

They understand that losing a critical workload could mean lost revenue, lost customers or even kill the company. The idea of testing by pulling the plug on something is scary. So, the idea of a regular test of backup, recovery and "business continuity" solutions is not often implemented.

Instead, midmarket companies often rely on one of the following approaches.

Is system reliability enough?

Today's systems are very reliable, often being available over 99% of the time all by themselves. So, some companies choose to do nothing and hope for the best. As my teenaged friends would say, this is "cruising for a bruising'."

Systems and system components fail all of the time. Trying to pick up the pieces while a disaster scenario is playing out in real life isn't wise when there are other approaches available.

How about using Virtual Machine Migration?

All the major suppliers of virtual machine software now offer tools to migrate virtual machines from one system to another and tools that monitor the health of virtual machines that can trigger VM migration.

This approach, when properly configured, offers the hope of a happy ending. The problem here is that  configurations change and sometimes the new configuration information is not propertly programed into the monitoring/orchestration/migration tools organizations deploy.

Would Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Tools be better?

Some organizations rely on backup and disaster recovery tools offered by a number of data management suppliers. This approach may or may not acknowledge the fact that workloads are running in virtual machines and are highly mobile.

This approach, like relying on VM migration, offers the promise of a happy ending, but may not keep up with real world configurations.

Custom tools and processes may not do the trick either

Some organizations believe that they are better off building their own tools and processes. They choose to build their own processes using the backup software supplied with the operating system, backup software provided with the database software and the like rather than purchasing something to help.

This approach can fail if the custom tools fail, the processes that use them fail, or if a configuration error appears. A static backup of each virtual machine, each database, and each application may not be a workable solution.

After all, processes that integrate all of these backup images in the attempt to reconstruct a working environment is fraught with potential error and is also likely to take quite some time.

Pulling the plug is scary

The challenge faced by most organizations is that even if they have put a DR or business continuity solution is place, it is very likely that they've never taken the step of pulling the plug on something important to really test out their DR planning.

It is just too scary. So, they wait for a real disaster to come along to learn whether all of their planning, the tools they've purchased or built, and the processes they've put in place will really work. VirtualSharp's approach makes it easily possible to safely test DR plans and can assure a happy ending.

Ask for help

The Kusnetzky Group suggests that it would be wise of decision makers to ask their partners, such as IBM, VMware, Microsoft, etc., to help them map out a real solution to the problem. It is important to purchase the right tools, but it is even more important to have put a reliable plan in place to use those tools and then test the recovery solution regulary.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. 

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