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Disaster recovery strategies for virtual environments

Paul Kirvan | 10.18.2010 |

The fundamental activities in virtualized environments are essentially the same as physical storage environments. You still need to identify critical systems and data, establish backup and recovery capabilities for them, and test and validate the recoverability of identified critical systems and data. However, even if your organization has made a commitment to an overall disaster recovery strategy/business continuity (BC) program, it can become a major undertaking for virtualized environments, especially for large enterprises with hundreds or thousands of servers. Development, deployment, support and testing of a full disaster recovery/business continuity solution could require major funding, staffing and resources.

Depending on what are perceived to be the most critical virtualized resources, a BC/DR program might be limited to only those resources, especially considering what might be needed to address BC/DR requirements for all virtualized assets. Among the issues to address for disaster recovery in a virtualized environment are the location(s) of data storage assets, network infrastructure changes and security, as well as any server-focused changes.

Since the overall virtualized environment can be located anywhere, the data storage can also be located anywhere. The challenge then is where to locate the physical storage components. Changes to network infrastructure requirements will necessitate a review of internal and external network topology, bandwidth and latency. This occurs because your infrastructure will have both external and internal components, and your present network organization may not be appropriate for a virtualized environment. Finally, security needs to be addressed because you may not have end-to-end control of network security, especially with third-party firms that support your new environment. You will need to carefully review your network perimeter to ensure there are no unauthorized access points from the transition.

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