Is DR Assurance Missing from VMware Backup?

A lot has been going on with PHD Virtual, a company that, despite having dramatic success, may not be well known in the virtualization backup space. To begin with, they just announced their 12th consecutive record quarter and a 40% year-over-year growth rate. But the company has been busy developing their technology, growing their visibility and have made some significant acquisitions as well.

Their Virtual Backup Appliance (VBA) provides complete virtual server data protection without dedicated backup hardware, and runs on VMware, Citrix and soon to be available for Hyper-V. The VBA provides an ‘instant recovery’ by enabling users to start a VM directly from the backup data store, either locally or in the cloud.

Cloud-based Recovery

While cloud backup and recovery-in-the-cloud is appealing, the challenge with many of these kinds of solutions comes when those VMs need to be moved back to the customer’s data center. Instead of requiring large amounts of bandwidth or physically shipping a storage system, PHD Virtual’s Rollback Recovery can reduce the amount of data that actually needs to be transferred, like the changed-block tracking that many backup systems currently use.

PHD Virtual recently announced a new module called “CloudHook”, which provides connectivity to a public cloud provider – currently Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, Rackspace Cloud Files and providers using OpenStack/Swift. As a software module that’s enabled with a license key, CloudHook requires no separate gateway appliance or complex installation. Now, the company has announced the acquisition of another interesting technology, VirtualSharp, which offers users a ‘DR assurance’ solution.

DR Assurance

Most companies have a DR plan which includes recovery objectives related to how backups and restores are conducted. PHD recently launched a new version of Reliable DR, a software solution that automates the disaster recovery process in virtual server environments providing assurance around the process of restoring IT services to users. As the company puts it, they “orchestrate” the virtual resources involved in the delivery of those services, collaborating with hypervisors, storage systems, applications, etc., to provide certified recovery points, not merely “objectives”. This automation also allows for DR testing to occur several times a day, a huge paradigm shift in the way today’s tools manage DR.

Orchestration is an accurate term because, like a musical performance, this process must include proper timing. For example, an e-commerce site might include web applications, middleware and backend database servers, all of which must be booted in the proper order and coordinated to restore services in the shortest amount of time.

In addition to restarting essential processes in the right sequence PHD’s Reliable DR Assurance solution keeps this ‘DR runbook’ updated as virtual environments evolve, maintaining that assurance for management. It enables IT to monitor the recovery process and measure the ‘recoverability’ of specific services, reporting on every step in the process. It not only automates DR testing but certifies that VMs will recover as planned, and meet pertinent SLAs.

Storage Swiss Take

As we used to say in backup discussions “it’s about the restore”. In disaster recovery you could say “it’s all about restoring the service, not about the data, the VM or even the application”. For users that can’t run their applications or access their data it doesn’t matter which component or process in the stack failed to restart after an outage.

In today’s virtual environments change rates are huge, VMs are started and moved with ease, applications are updated regularly and users have less time to understand how everything works together. IT (and management) needs assurance that these complex services stacks can be restored in accordance with the company’s uptime agreements. PHD’s ReliableDR is designed to do this.

PHD Virtual is not a client of Storage Switzerland

Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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