What it takes to develop a bullet-proof HA/DR plan

by Gil Hecht

Today, most IT organizations have virtually no ability to accurately measure how well their high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) plans will respond when needed.  As other posters on this blog have noted, this is primarily due to the complexity and scale of their IT infrastructures as well as the limitations of traditional HA and DR methodologies.

But as we look to the future, IT will continue to be under pressure to ensure business continuity and eliminate the possibility of even the most minute data loss.  Anything less than completely bullet-proof plans will no longer be acceptable.

I believe that automated HA and DR testing and monitoring software will help companies compensate for the shortcomings of current methodologies and deliver the bullet-proof protection companies demand. These solutions routinely check for hidden vulnerabilities and identify problems — in both virtualized and non-virtualized environments — that had previously gone undetected, allowing the issues to be addressed before they impact business operations.

The need for this technology is clearly demonstrated, which means it will not be long before companies have a number of solutions from which to choose. So what should an IT manager look for in an ideal solution? Here are some things to consider:

  • Automatic IT Discovery and Scanning – agentless technology used to scan an IT environment and collect information and configuration data from IT assets.
  • Robust Gap Detection – ability to identify the thousands of possible HA and DR gaps and vulnerabilities – including, but not limited to: interdependencies/mapping between virtual and physical layers, data tampering, data completeness, data consistency, as well as host configuration in heterogeneous environments.
  • Visualization and Reports – provide a clear view of the IT infrastructure configuration and status, as well as the discovered HA and DR gaps. Visualization provides all the necessary information to drill-down into a specific IT asset, understand its protection status, and to resolve a potential gap that was discovered.
  • Customizable Reporting Infrastructure – ticket summaries delivered on a preset schedule, via a predetermined delivery protocol.  Effective notification means fast and accurate issue resolution.  The solution should also integrate with existing configuration management databases (CMDBs) and ticket management systems, in order to maintain one point of contact for monitoring and managing the entire environment.
  • Optimization Discovery – ability to analyze the information previously gathered to identify IT optimization and fine-tuning opportunities in the infrastructure, in order to maximize utilization and extend ROI.
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