CIO Symmetry

Sep 24 2010   1:10PM GMT

Bandwidth and compliance are key to strong disaster recovery solutions


By Laura Smith, Features Writer

As more midmarket firms explore virtualization to achieve cost savings and other benefits, they’re discovering that adequate bandwidth and compliance with regulations as part of their disaster recovery solutions are drivers for success.

“You never know when a disaster is going to hit,” says Ray Lucchesi, president of Silverton Consulting Inc. in Broomfield, Colo., and a 30-year industry veteran with early patents on tape and disk storage devices. Lucchesi now counsels clients on issues such as bandwidth and regulatory requirements when setting up disaster recovery solutions in virtualized environments.

When transferring data from a virtualized production environment to a hot site, having enough bandwidth is critical — and that means planning and budgeting for it ahead of time. “Bandwidth issues can be expensive,” Lucchesi says. “If you’re going to support disaster recovery, you need to support the bandwidth requirements. In the end, you have to transfer the data. Bandwidth is the key governor to that.”

Sun National Bank learned that lesson the hard way — but then, that happens when you’re ahead of the curve. Three years ago — a generation in virtualization terms –the Vineland, N.J., bank embarked on a project that was slightly delayed due to bandwidth issues during failover from the production environment to the hot site. On the positive side, Sun National made good use of its displaced servers, setting up its own business continuity and disaster recovery site and pocketing the monthly fee it had been spending on third-party services. More importantly, the bank, now in charge of its own disaster recovery architecture, can comfortably guarantee it will deliver on user requests within 24 hours.

But this isn’t the brand of home-grown disaster recovery solutions we’re talking about. CIOs are dealing with disaster recovery requirements that are sometimes specified by financial or health regulations that require them to be operational within a certain time frame. “In some environments, such as a bank, being down for an hour can mean the loss of millions of dollars that you can’t retrieve, to a large extent,” Lucchesi says. And when one bank fails, another may follow, given the complex web we live in.

Surprisingly, European companies have been more actively involved in establishing failproof disaster recovery solutions than Americans — perhaps due to terrorist activity on the continent or more governmental regulations requiring it, Lucchesi suggests. After 9/11, the U.S. government initiated similar regulations, recently urging financial organizations to create plans for surviving a regional disaster. Some of these regulations require industries in the critical infrastructure — health care and power — to audit their disaster recovery solutions.

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