VM Disaster Recovery for Organizations using Multiple Clouds

By |2020-03-18T19:35:16+00:00March 18th, 2020|0 Comments

Despite discussions today about repatriating IT data infrastructures from cloud environments to on-site data centers, many organizations still have made a significant investment in cloud technology.  In addition to running key applications, it is also used for data backup and storage plus technology disaster recovery.  In this article we’ll examine some of the issues and strategies for IT leaders concerned about protecting their investments in virtual machines (VMs), multiple clouds and managed-service technology solutions.

When protecting mission-critical VMs, applications and data, sufficient storage must be available to support them in a production environment.  Such resources must also be available to leverage backed-up VMs and related data resources into the organization’s disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) strategies and programs.  

In April 2019 Microsoft (www.microsoft.com announced its VMware-on-Azure hosting service, called the Azure Virtualization Solution (AVS).  This is important to IT managers with multiple cloud infrastructures as it introduces yet another hosting choice for protecting VMs and related IT resources.  The challenge is how to migrate VM clusters and other mission-critical systems safely and securely into the Azure environment, and other similar solutions.  

One organization offering such VM migration tools is JetStream Software (www.jetstreamsoft.com). The firm’s JetStream Migrate tool provides real-time migration to Azure without the need to shut down VMs during data migration.  Once the transition to AVS has completed, the VMs can be restarted in AVS. Organizations moving large volumes of data to AVS can move their VM data on a physical device, such as the Microsoft Azure Data Box, and the VMs can continue to run in the source environment while the device is in transit, with new data replicated over the network.

A second software product from the company, JetStream DR, leverages Azure Blob Storage and AVS to provide disaster recovery (DR) services for customer workloads running on premises. This Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solution continuously replicates data into Azure Blob Storage for potential recovery.  In an incident, the VMs and all of their associated data can be recovered from Azure Blob Storage into an Azure VMware solution and resume operations. Unlike traditional backup solutions that produce backup copies intermittently, JetStream DR replicates data continuously while being written to storage in the protected environment. This approach ensures continuous data protection (CDP). 

Cloud-intensive organizations may also utilize managed service providers (MSPs) to facilitate their various cloud-based activities. For organizations with multiple clouds (both private and public) MSPs can greatly simplify the process of disaster recovery, especially when they offer platform-based DR and data backup services.  Rich Petersen, president and co-founder of JetStream Software, notes “Organizations using multiple clouds, especially for DR and data backup, need multi-cloud strategies to ensure the optimum utilization of those resources.”  He added that most cloud resources have specific purposes; and that different clouds may have specific differences/benefits. “When choosing a DR provider, especially from a cloud vendor, be sure to identify the benefits that support the organization’s requirements,” he said, “and examine the MSP’s regulatory compliance, data protection capabilities, and their ability to fail over disrupted VMs to the appropriate alternate location.”

Petersen also noted that in a multi-vendor cloud environment, it’s important to realize that not every vendor can do it all. “If you’re looking for special VM protection capabilities, different MSPs may be the answer,” he said, “so make sure to work with vendors that are certified partners with Microsoft, VMware and other key VM vendors.”  Petersen added that in addition to large-scale cloud providers, thousands of MSPs partner with VMware. 

Strategies for migrating VMs and data to multiple clouds include the following: 

  1. Understand the business requirements and identify the VMs and data resources that are most critical for migration;
  2. Examine currently used cloud resources and MSPs to see if they can support VM migrations, in addition to DR support;
  3. Compare experienced MSPs and cloud service firms; carefully examine their capabilities and service offerings; 
  4. Investigate software that can facilitate migrations, ensuring that existing VMs, applications and data can be securely protected during migration;
  5. Investigate existing MSPs to see if they have software, hardware and services offerings that support VM migrations;
  6. Be sure to understand the economics of data migrations in terms of business processes and the systems needed;
  7. Identify additional MSP capabilities such as operational requirements, physical security into their data centers, network bandwidth, primary and backup power supplies;
  8. Consider an assessment of candidate MSP capabilities based on business and technical requirements before selecting a vendor;
  9. Lack of internal IT department capabilities, such as preparing DR and data backup code, recovery scripts and disaster runbooks can be replaced with experienced MSPs; and
  10. Be sure that MSPs offer DR and backup and recovery testing capabilities so that those processes will perform when needed.

Summary 

In any IT environment, whether a legacy on-site data center configuration or a multi-cloud strategy, the right tools and resources go hand-in-hand with a well-thought-out DR and data protection strategy.  In this article we have examined some of the strategies and resources available today, especially for organizations that use multiple clouds.  

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Case Study, EXCLUDE FROM SME, IT Availability & Security

About the Author:

Paul Kirvan, FBCI, CISA, is an independent business resilience consultant, IT auditor, technical writer and project manager with over 25 years of experience.  Previously Mr. Kirvan was a founding board member and secretary of the Business Continuity Institute’s USA Chapter, and a member of the international board of the BCI. Mr. Kirvan is currently a Fellow of the Business Continuity Institute (FBCI) and a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulkirvan/

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