Back in September, Nirvanix announced to its customers that they had two weeks to move its data before the company went down the plughole.
As the enterprise cloud storage provider waved the white flag, Gartner research director Kyle Hilgendorf noted in a blog post that the analyst house’s paper on cloud exit strategies was one of the least popular in the collection.
“I suspect it is because cloud exits are not nearly as sexy as cloud deployments,” he demurred. “They are an afterthought.”
This is an issue that patently needs to change. As Hilgendorf asserted, recovery in the cloud may not be sexy, but they’re just as vital as moving to the cloud, whether it’s through natural disasters or company shutdowns.
The good news is that there are plenty of options out there, from niche providers to the big guys, such as VMware, and IBM, who added business continuity and recovery options to its SoftLayer package earlier this week.
HP, under the catchy moniker of ‘Enterprise Cloud Services – Continuity’, offers a similar resource, offering reduced recovery time of up to 90% and reduced data loss by up to 95%. The firm’s continuity cloud, based on converged infrastructure and 3PAR storage, creates an enterprise-class replica of the environment; each file has a virtualised duplicate in one of HP’s recovery centres.
The overall effect, once everything has been rebooted, is that the system is back to normal within a few hours, as opposed to several days with traditional tape-based recovery.
Kevin Garlinge, global portfolio manager at HP Enterprise Services, explains the difference.
“Traditional DR solutions take time to build, they’re built from syndicated assets, they’re built at the time that the customer requests the rehearsal, the customer has to typically travel to us or we travel to them,” he tells CloudTech.
“It takes time and resources to run these rehearsals, where with this service it’s all automatically done in the background, and literally all they have to do is log into an environment that looks exactly like their production environment at the point in time they requested the rehearsal, and run the tests and checks at their leisure.
“So from their perspective it’s very resource efficient, and from our perspective also it’s resource efficient,” he adds.
“I think the fact that we offer line testing or rehearsing is a big benefit,” says David Dignam, business development manager at HP. “That’s because quite a number of customers in the market today securing the data, whilst they’re replicating data sets and creating multiple copies potentially across multiple sites, it can be quite difficult for the business to rehearse a failover and check for compliance and [that] it’s performing in the same way they expect their production environment to perform.
“Quite often that has to be done at the weekends, everything has to close down, and it can be quite a dangerous manoeuvre particularly if you don’t get it right,” he adds.
Dignam concedes the service isn’t unique, but the consensus is there are a couple of irrepressible value adds – chief of which being that you don’t have to be in the cloud to use the service.
It’s continuity from or for the cloud dependent on your preference. As Dignam explains: “If you’ve got physical assets and you’re running a standard environment that you just want to improve your recovery point or time, start protecting data in real time and have a failover service rather than a recover-from-tape service, we can do that from the cloud.
“So you don’t have to be a cloud user. You can just be a standard architecture user, and as long as your operating systems are compatible with the ones we are supporting, we can upgrade your service in effect from recover-from-tape on a standby platform, to protected data on a failover platform from our cloud.
“And, if you’re heading towards cloud for production, it supports some of our standard cloud platforms already,” he adds.
Intriguingly HP is predominantly targeting larger organisations, even though DR solutions are usually aimed at smaller businesses who lack the resources to kit everything out bespoke.
Joachim Mayer, product marketing at HP, noted this, yet adds that the prices HP offered were the most competitive even at the small to medium business level.
“You can expect that our target for cloud continuity will change in the near future, for we will not only focus on enterprise businesses, we will change our focus,” he explains. “We are starting on a higher level…but as soon as that is evolving and being placed into the market then the cloud continuity offering will follow that track.”
“I think also there’s a question about maturity of the market,” adds Dignam. “I think in the more mature centralised markets like the UK, we are not really differentiating between smaller companies and the enterprises.
“Whilst there’s very big budgets out there being spent on data security, disaster recovery and failover, when you get below that level it gets far more difficult for medium sized enterprises to achieve that due to the complexity, the cost and effort to achieve it and maintain a fully resilient, real time environment 24 by 7.
“It’s not an easy task for a smaller organisation.”
Garlinge agrees. “It’s opening those businesses to basically consume these kind of services, where in the past they’ve had to rely on very low recovery points through tape-based recovery solutions, or effectively your in-house high availability solutions that didn’t give them the facility protection that they would enjoy with a dual site solution.
“They’re looking to these as an, if you like, ideal requirement to improve their supply of chain resilience by lower recovery points and lower recovery times.”
In the case of HP call it what you will – disaster recovery as a service or cloud continuity – but they’re aiming to change it at the enterprise level, with the SMEs naturally progressing from that.
Take a look at the company’s infographic on the subject below, and check out the promotional video here: