Preparing For Disaster – Data Recovery and Virtualization

The past few decades have seen the common office and business growing more and more reliant their IT departments. Critical information is now stored in data centers, and offices and businesses have begun to operate on a paperless model. Gone are the days when data storage meant going to a file cabinet and retrieving vital information. While this has brought a speed and precision to the workplace, it also means that there is seldom any hard copy to refer to in case of systematic data loss. Consequently the need for full system disaster recovery has become the backbone of a successful data center. Planning, testing and updating recovery protocols has become standard practice in order to guard against critical data loss. A terminal crash of an operating system can effectively cripple an organization, and without proper safeguards in place it can be almost impossible to recover.

Data Recovery

Until recently, conventional disaster recovery procedures have been built upon two basic models. The first requires a system of pre-programmed  mirrored servers stored in remote facilities, ready to be put to use in the case of any critical shutdown. In effect, an organization must maintain two distinct facilities, which is both inefficient and costly. Alternately, businesses can  rely on backup files and programs stored remotely on tape, ready to be loaded into mew rack servers if and when disaster strikes. Typically,  this requires a great deal of time and manpower,  and results in an unavoidable delay in recovery time. Cold site servers must be loaded with operating systems, software patches and data bundles. Tapes containing the requisite information must be moved to the cold site, loaded onto the new servers, and all applications and data need to be debugged and brought into alignment with the last best configuration of the system before the critical shutdown occurred. This process is time consuming, expensive and prone to failure.

Businesses have long relied on these types of disaster recovery protocols as a matter of course, accepting that they need to be tested regularly, updated constantly and at the best of times are prone to data loss and system failure. Even when the recovery process is successful, it is still necessary to perform a secondary recovery process when it becomes possible to return to the original data center. In effect, businesses must undergo two separate cold site starts. Loading fresh servers, debugging and  restarting at the cold site, and repeating the process at the original location once the problems have been resolved. It is along, expensive and undependable process. But for the longest time it has been the foundation of every IT department’s disaster recovery plans.


New techniques for disaster recovery,  which take full advantage of the possibilities of cloud computing techniques and  virtualization, offer more reliable and cost effective ways to prepare for, and to recover from, a critical event. Through virtualization, a business’ entire server, including operating systems and data, can be gathered into a single software bundle. This bundle is in effect a virtual server, and can be transferred  from one data center to another quickly, efficiently and with minimal loss of time or data. No longer is it necessary to maintain a prepared cold site, or to store all of a company’s system information on tape, ready to be rushed to a new location and loaded painstakingly onto a new server. With cloud computing it becomes possible to quickly shift operations to a new facility, and back again, with a minimum of downtime and at a fraction of the cost of more conventional disaster recovery protocols.

With virtualization and cloud computing technology, disaster recovery protocols can be in place and ready to go at multiple server locations without the need to physically transport any storage media. Where previously it has been necessary to physically move tapes and servers to remote facilities, it is now possible to store all of the required recovery data on a storage area network (SAN) and retrieve it when it becomes needed.

Virtualization offers the added benefit of being easy to test and maintain. Testing disaster recovery procedures is an absolute must, but with conventional protocols it can be time consuming and costly. It’s difficult to accurately replicate an emergency shut down and transfer of data without actually shutting down the data center being tested. Cloud computing allows for a full scale test of all recovery systems, taking virtual machines up to, and beyond the failure point. All without the need to shut down operations. In this way virtualization has a definite advantage over it’s conventional counterparts. Disaster recovery operations can be regularly tested, adjusted  and improved without a full scale disruption of data operations, thereby saving money and time.

The ease and relative cost effectiveness of a virtual recovery technique puts it in reach of smaller businesses that are reliant on  their IT systems for their success, but are not in a position to put into place large scale conventional recovery protocols. For many companies the cost of conventional recovery systems puts them at a distinct disadvantage. Now, with the the advent of cloud computing and virtualization, affordable and reliable disaster recovery procedures are within the reach of businesses both large and small.

ISP Fast is well aware of these data recovery and virtualization challenges. Let one of our agents prepare a data services quote for the bandwidth you require.


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