Tag Archives: Tips

5 Disaster Recovery Tips: Learning from Hurricanes


Hurricanes Irma and Harvey highlight the need for DR planning to ensure business continuity.

 

This has been an awful year for natural disasters, and yet, we’re not even midway through a hurricane season that’s been particularly devastating. Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, and the flooding that ensued, has resulted in loss of life, extensive property damage, and crippled infrastructure..

Naturally, businesses have also been impacted. When it comes to applications, data and data centers, this is a wake-up call. At the same time, these are situations that motivate companies and individuals to introduce much-needed change. With this in mind, I’ll offer five tips any IT organization can use to become more resilient against natural disaster, no matter the characteristics of their systems and data centers. This can lead to better availability of critical data and tools when disaster strikes, continuity in serving customers, as well as peace of mind knowing preparations have been made and work can continue as expected.

1. Keep your people safe

When a natural disaster is anticipated (if there is notice), IT staffers need to focus on personal and family safety issues. Having to work late to take one more backup off-site shouldn’t be part of the last-minute process. Simply put, no data is worth putting lives at risk. If the rest of these tips are followed, IT staff won’t have to scramble in the heavy push of preparation to tie up loose ends of what already should be a resilient IT strategy.

2. Follow the 3-2-1 rule

In my role, I’ve long advocated the 3-2-1 rule, and we need to keep reiterating it: Have three different copies of important data saved, on two different media, one of these being off-site. Embrace this rule if you haven’t already. There are two additional key benefits of the 3-2-1 rule: It doesn’t require any specific technology and can address nearly any failure scenario.

3. 10 miles may not be enough

My third tip pertains to the off-site recommendation above. Many organizations believe the off-site copy or disaster recovery facility should be at least 10 miles away. This no longer may be sufficient; the path and fallout of a hurricane can be wide-reaching. Moreover, you want to avoid having personnel spend unnecessary time in a car traveling to complete the IT work. Cloud technologies can provide a more efficient and safer solution. This can involve using disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) from a service provider or simply putting backups in the cloud.

4. Test your DR plan

Ensure that when a disaster plan is created there is particular focus on anticipating and eliminating surprises. This should involve regularly testing of backups to be certain they are completely recoverable, that the plan will function as expected and all data is where it needs to be (off-site, for example). The last thing you want during a disaster is to find that the plan hasn’t been completely implemented or run in months, or worse, discover there are workloads which are not recoverable.

5. Communications planning

My final recommendation is to work backwards in all required systems and with providers of all types to ensure you don’t have risks you can’t fix. Pay close attention to geography in relation to your own facilities, as well as country locations for data sovereignty considerations. This can apply to telecommunications providers, too. A critical component about response to any disaster is that organizations are able to communicate. Given what has happened in some locations in the path of Hurricane Irma, even cellular communication can be unreliable. Consider developing a plan to ensure communications in the interim if key business systems are down.

The recent flood and hurricane damage has been significant. The truth is, when it comes to the data, IT services, and more, there is a significant risk a business may never recover if it’s not adequately prepared. We live in a digitally transformed world and many businesses can’t operate without the availability of systems and data. These simple tips can bring about the resiliency companies need to effectively handle disasters, and prove their reliability to the customers they serve.

Rick Vanover is director of technical product marketing for Veeam Software.



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Enterprise Data Storage Shopping Tips


Enterprise data storage used to be an easy field. Keeping up meant just buying more drives from your RAID vendor. With all the new hardware and software today, this strategy no longer works. In fact, the radical changes in storage products impact not only storage buys, but ripple through to server choices and networking design.

This is actually a good news scenario. In data storage, we spent much of three decades with gradual drive capacity increases as the only real excitement. The result was a stagnation of choice, which made storage predictable and boring.

Today, the cloud and solid-state storage have revolutionized thinking and are driving much of the change happening today in the industry. The cloud brings low-cost storage-on-demand and simplified administration, while SSDs make server farms much faster and drastically reduce the number of servers required for a given job.

Storage software is changing rapidly, too. Ceph is the prime mover in open-source storage code, delivering a powerful object store with universal storage capability, providing all three mainstream storage modes (block-IO, NAS and SAN) in a single storage pool. Separately, there are storage management solutions for creating a single storage address space from NVDIMMs to the cloud, compression packages that typically shrink raw capacity needs by 5X, virtualization packages that turn server storage into a shared clustered pool, and tools to solve the “hybrid cloud dilemma” of where to place data for efficient and agile operations.

A single theme runs through all of this: Storage is getting cheaper and it’s time to reset our expectations. The traditional model of a one-stop shop at your neighborhood RAID vendor is giving way to a more savvy COTS buying model, where interchangeability of  component elements is so good that integration risk is negligible. We are still not all the way home on the software side in this, but hardware is now like Legos, with the parts always fitting together. The rapid uptake of all-flash arrays has demonstrated just how easy COTS-based solutions come together.

The future of storage is “more, better, cheaper!” SSDs will reach capacities of 100 TB in late 2018, blowing away any hard-drive alternatives. Primary storage is transitioning to all-solid-state as we speak and “enterprise” hard drives are becoming obsolete. The tremendous performance of SSDs has also replaced the RAID array with the compact storage appliance. We aren’t stopping here, though. NVDIMM is bridging the gap between storage and main memory, while NVMe-over-Fabric solutions ensure that hyperconverged infrastructure will be a dominant approach in future data centers.

With all these changes, what storage technologies should you consider buying to meet your company’s needs? Here are some shopping tips.

(Image: Evannovostro/Shutterstock)



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Adapting IT Operations to Emerging Trends: 3 Tips


For infrastructure management professionals, keeping up with new trends is a constant challenge. IT must constantly weigh the potential benefits and risks of adopting new technologies, as well as the pros and cons of continuing to maintain their legacy hardware and applications.

Some experts say that right now is a particularly difficult time for enterprise IT given the massive changes that are occurring. When asked about the trends affecting enterprise IT operations today, Keith Townsend, principal at The CTO Advisor, told me, “Obviously the biggest one is the cloud and the need to integrate cloud.”

In its latest market research, IDC predicts that public cloud services and infrastructure spending will grow 24.4% this year, and Gartner forecasts that the public cloud services market will grow 18%in 2017. By either measure, enterprises are going to be running a lot more of their workloads in the cloud, which means IT operations will need to adapt to deal with this new situation.

Townsend, who also is SAP infrastructure architect at AbbVie, said that the growth in hybrid cloud computing and new advancements like serverless computing and containers pose challenges for IT operations, given “the resulting need for automation and orchestration throughout the enterprise IT infrastructure.” He added, “Ultimately, they need to transform their organizations from a people, process and technology perspective.”

For organizations seeking to accomplish that transformation, Townsend offered three key pieces of advice.

Put the strategy first

Townsend said the biggest mistake he sees enterprises making “is investing in tools before they really understand their strategy.” Organizations know that their approach to IT needs to change, but they don’t always clearly define their goals and objectives.

Instead, Townsend said, they often start by “going out to vendors and asking vendors to solve this problem for them in the form of some tool or dashboard or some framework without understanding what the drivers are internally.”

IT operations groups can save themselves a great deal of time, money and aggravation by focusing on their strategy first before they invest in new tools.

Self-fund your transformation

Attaining the level of agility and flexibility that allows organizations to take advantage of the latest advances in cloud computing isn’t easy or cheap. “That requires some investment, but it’s tough to get that investment,” Townsend acknowledged.

Instead of asking for budget increases, he believes the best way to do that investment is through self-funding.

Most IT teams spend about 80% of their budgets on maintaining existing systems, activities that are colloquially called “keeping the lights on.” That leaves only 20% of the budget for new projects and transformation. “That mix needs to be changed,” said Townsend.

He recommends that organizations look for ways to become more efficient. By carefully deploying automation and adopting new processes, teams can accomplish a “series of mini-transformations” that gradually decreases the amount of money that must be spent on maintenance and frees up more funds and staff resources for new projects.

Focus on agility, not services

In his work, Townsend has seen many IT teams often make a common mistake when it comes to dealing with the business side of the organization: not paying enough attention to what is happening in the business and what the business really wants.

When the business comes to IT with a request, IT typically responds with a list of limited options. Townsend said that these limited options are the equivalent of telling the business no. “What they are asking for is agility,” he said.

He told a story about a recent six-month infrastructure project where the business objectives for the project completely changed between the beginning of the project and the end. An IT organization can only adapt to those sort of constant changes by adopting a DevOps approach, he said. If IT wants to remain relevant and help organizations capitalize on the new opportunities that the cloud offers, it has to become much more agile and flexible.

You can see Keith Townsend live and in person at Interop ITX, where he will offer more insight about how enterprise IT needs to transform itself in his session, “Holistic IT Operations in the Application Age.” Register now for Interop ITX, May 15-19, in Las Vegas.



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