Perfecting the Storm

... or ... "Virtually Ready for Disaster"

My friend Adam Thornton has written a teriffic article on using virtualization for disaster recovery: for D/R drills, for actual disasters, and even for your production stuff to make it more D/R prepared.

How many times have you had to pick up the pieces and re-boot your business because some tornado ripped your lovely redundant-powered, raised-floor, multi-million-dollar state of the art datacenter? That many? I didn't think so. (To be fair, me neither.) Like a Boy Scout, you should be prepared. In the course of time, bad things happen to good datacenters. If you have had to recover from a lost facility, how many times did recovery go smoothly? That many? I was afraid not.

In my new day job, I've seen D/R done right. It's not easy, but it is sweetly satisfying when it flies. A good D/R strategy costs: time, contracts, redundancy, planning, working it. The smoothest way to recover from a disaster is to have a complete reproduction of your IT infrastructure at the recovery site. (I say "the" recovery site, not just "a" recovery site. Plan it!)

But how many organizations can afford a complete duplicate datacenter? Depending on the need, some have to justify that depth of effort. For those who cannot afford total replacement, virtualizing some or all of the systems is the new looming hope.

With z/VM, you get native platform virtualization. On other architectures, that may be harder to come by. Vanderpool and Pacifica are available for PC class systems if you have the latest chipset, getting you very, very close. In any case, true virtual machines let you drop your operation into the recovery site and enjoy full recovery. Other "lighter" forms of virtualization can be similarly effective but require more careful planning and may benefit from going virtual at all ends of your game, production as well as recovery.

The more that can be built ahead of time to run in V12N the more successful will be your D/R experience. When you are intentional about running your network with abstractions there are less switches to flip when the underlying reality changes.

Disaster is like a perfect storm. Crises combine, crashing crucial computing 'quipment. An untapped aspect of virtualization is the ability to plan and test secondary and tertiary backup facilities. Plan the work; work the plan. (Try your drill before the storm hits.) V12N is the smoke and mirrors to give you a less cloudy day.

-- R;