Discussing Disaster Recovery – Commvault

Mark Bentkower, Director of Systems Engineering for ASEAN

Disaster recovery (DR) involves a set of policies and procedures to enable the recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructure and systems following a natural o human-induced disaster.
As IT systems have become increasingly critical to the smooth operation of a company, and arguably the economy as a whole, the importance of ensuring the continued operation of those systems, and their rapid recovery, has increased.
It is good to know that companies, like Commvault, are here to help organisations address disaster recovery issues.
Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Tinton Falls, N.J. Commvault’s data protection and information management solutions provide mid- and enterprise-level organisations worldwide with a significantly better way to get value from their data.
All of the applications in Commvault’s end-to-end data protection and information management solutions offer flexible deployment options and are built from the ground up, on the same platform.
This time around, Mark Bentkower, CISSP, Director of Systems Engineering, ASEAN, Commvault answers our question on DR.
DataStorageAsean: How has cloud, software defined data centre and virtualisation transformed the DR landscape?
Mark Bentkower: Cloud computing, SDN and virtualisation are forcing businesses to fundamentally re-evaluate their DR strategy. Services in the cloud are proliferating across all industries as organisations seek to become more agile, cost efficient and flexible.
IDC expects spending on public IT cloud services to grow almost five-fold, reaching $19.5 billion in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) by 2016.
Economies of scale through the cloud mean that effective DR is now within the reach of just about any size company. Cloud-based DR gives organisations more benefits and control at a lower price point than traditional disaster recovery solutions.
In addition, having DR sites in the cloud can actually reduce the need for data centre space, IT infrastructure and IT resources, enabling smaller companies to deploy DR options that were previously only available to larger enterprises.
Cloud-based DR creates an opportunity for businesses to improve their data retention and recovery strategy and thus mitigate the risk of data loss. At the same time, many IT environments have seen the direct benefits of network virtualisation, one of which is in the area of high availability and disaster recovery. While virtualisation has a key role in DR testing and development, from specifically a DR and HA perspective, SDN goes even further.
SDN has helped create connections between applications, services, VMs and numerous other workloads. Effectively, administrators are able to test their environment, DR plan, as well as high availability methodology completely from a secured and isolated configuration – even emulating the end-user environment – thus, creating a truly powerful testing platform.
DataStorageAsean: Are you finding customers are expecting improved RPO and RTO?
Mark Bentkower: DR challenges have no prejudice. Small companies, large companies, public sector, overseas, domestic – IT consistently struggles to keep up with management’s RTO and RPO benchmarks. Balancing the cost of downtime and data loss with business requirements requires organisational collaboration and in-depth understanding of recovery metrics (RTO/RPO), as well as the variety of technologies available to achieve them.
A recent IDC survey of small and medium-sized business (SMB) users revealed that 67% of these firms have a recovery time requirement of less than four hours, while 31% have a recovery time requirement of less than two hours. Additionally, IDC estimates that as many as half of all organisations have insufficient business continuity and disaster recovery plans to meet business requirements, or to even survive a disaster.
There is a gap in user expectations for tolerable downtime and what IT is prepared to deliver. IT professionals are also limited in budget to buy the necessary infrastructure to meet user expectations. The average cost of downtime is estimated at approximately US$100,000 per hour, although it can go as high as US$1.6 million per hour for some organisations.
Given that recovery from a true disaster may take several days or even weeks without adequate planning, the cost-justifiable budget may be substantial. This makes a strong case for cloud-based DR as it requires little up-front investment and a variable pay-as-you-go model.
Cloud providers have done well to build resiliency into their offerings to dramatically improve uptime. It is now possible to find a cloud provider who can offer disaster recovery protection of data and information, applications and operating systems in continuous real-time replication service, while supporting multiple IT environments – physical and virtual servers – thus enabling further flexibility and scale for delivering IT operational continuity.
DataStorageAsean: What are the key attributes that you are seeing companies look for in a DR solution?
Mark Bentkower: Simple and reliable failover. Whether virtual or physical, businesses want recovery to be simple. For disaster recovery, complexity is the enemy. Recovering a server must be as easy as opening a console, clicking a few checkboxes, and activating recovery. In a chaotic situation as a disaster is, businesses do not have time to line up tapes and prioritise servers.
Hardware agnostic. Traditional backup solutions are far too hardware-specific. In an era where businesses routinely rely on OS imaging and deployment technologies that aren’t hardware-dependent, IT should be able to restore a server onto any hardware at hand, and have everything integrate and work easily.
Integrated data replication. While everyone knows backup data needs to be off-premise, the differentiator between vendors is the ability to easily incorporate/integrate both on- and off-premise data easily so that in the event of a disaster, accessing any information and restarting services can be done in a matter of minutes.
Easy off-premise recovery. Off-site recovery is probably one of the most painful and expensive things an IT team can experience. Even testing the process is painful when backups are dependent on hardware configurations. Every physical server should also automatically syncs to a virtual one that replicates live, ready-to-go copies of every protected server. Almost immediately, everything about DR gets dramatically less complex. Got a disaster? Click to power on the backup servers.
DataStorageAsean: What are the specific challenges for DR in the ASEAN region?
Mark Bentkower: Globally, the market for DR as a service is estimated to grow from US$1.42 billion in 2015 to US$11.92 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 52.9% from 2015 to 2020. The world has now reached more than 4.4ZB of data and there is no stopping it for the foreseeable future.
What we find is that many companies in Southeast Asia do not have nor implement DR strategies that can sufficiently safeguard them from the rising tide of data growth. In a region where serious outages and natural disasters are not uncommon, the lack of a comprehensive DR plan has the very real potential of threatening the continued existence of some organisations.
Below are some of the key challenges we see in DR strategies in the region.
Lack of automation
There is typically someone who still spends time managing or working with backups to take care of the many issues that crop up. To combat these problems, scripting, troubleshooting and repeated backups become a way of life. Manual processes put organisations at greater risk as it opens up corporate and sensitive information to exposure.
Use of tape
Tape is too inefficient and slow for the rapid pace of information today. Globally, we generated over 90% of data in the last two years alone. Yet, many organisations in Asia Pacific, much less Southeast Asia, still rely on tape as a key source of backup.
Redundant data
Data silos within Asia Pacific organisations are limiting decision-makers’ ability to make insight-based decisions, resulting in increased IT costs. A Commvault-commissioned survey by IDC found that 40% of IT decision makers across APAC report that backup, recovery, data protection and analytics strategies are still managed at a departmental level.
Network bottlenecks
Asia and the Pacific is the world’s most natural disaster-prone area. Of the world’s reported natural disasters between 2004 and 2013, 41.2% or 1,690 incidences, occurred in the Asia-Pacific region alone. Compounding this, Southeast Asia is made up of predominantly under-developed and developing economies with slow and unreliable network connections. For example, in Thailand, businesses have lost US$297 million in revenue from network downtime over the past year.
DataStorageAsean: What is unique about your DR offering?
Mark Bentkower: We are very proud of our integrated platform and the solution sets, which help organisations drive costs down, eliminate complexity and allow faster, greater access to information through an end-to-end platform for Smart Data access, protection and management. The fact that we offer a multitude of functions on a single solution not only makes us so different from our competitors, it also enables organisations to gain greater visibility into existing data assets and better management of recovery policies.
Another key advantage when using an end-to-end platform is its interoperability, and compatibility with other vendors’ solutions making it easier for businesses to integrate Commvault software with their existing legacy systems. This allows for multi-tenancy infrastructure, which is the reality of today’s IT infrastructure.
Commvault’s single platform approach consists of more than 300 new features combining to reduce risks and also slash costs by up to half. Businesses which implement our solutions can also expect to see a decrease in administrative overhead and lowered support costs by up to 80% and 35% respectively.
The single platform reduces time taken to manage operations by up to 50%, allowing IT leaders and service providers to improve quality of service, simplifying tedious tasks and freeing much needed IT resources for more strategic initiatives.
There are many benefits when it comes to using Commvault’s single platform approach to accelerate disaster recovery. Businesses can choose to optimise disaster recovery operations with flexible options for replication or WAN-optimised deduplication on a singular platform.
Furthermore, since we deduplicate at the source, reducing the amount of information backed up and also the network bandwidth needed, businesses will realise how much more cost-effective our solutions are.
They will also see improved business continuity with integrated array-based replication, and will be able to seamlessly extend offsite disaster recovery with deep cloud storage integration. Businesses will not have to wait for a disaster to happen before they can test the reliability of our solution, “Virtualise Me” enhancements leverage the virtual environment for rapid Disaster Recovery scenario testing with just one click. Also, our Single DASH technology efficiently and quickly replicates deduplicated backup copies to secondary sites of cloud infrastructure.  
What we do is very straightforward; we simplify data management for businesses at vastly lower costs than our competitors, hence enabling organisations to effectively treat their data as a critical strategic asset. 

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