Data Centers

Don't forget about hardware when creating your disaster recovery strategy

Choosing the right hardware solutions is important if you want your disaster recovery plan to succeed. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Disaster recovery planning is a multistep, complex process, and it can be easy to neglect some of the basics during the planning and implementation phases. One such example is hardware, an area that organizations often overlook, but that's necessary for a DR solution to succeed.

When it comes to hardware for DR solutions, the most obvious component that comes to mind for nearly every solution is tape backup devices. These devices can be as simple as single-tape solutions, but they can also be much more complex. In addition, several kinds of tape are also available.

Of course, each type of tape has its strengths and weaknesses. However, each offers the ability to copy data from a spinning disk onto more point-in-time-based media, so it often comes down to an organization's specific needs.

An organization's hardware needs depend most directly on the amount of data it needs to back up and how often it needs to do it. Quantum's DLTtape family of products and StorageTek's LTO line are the two primary products in play today, but many legacy products and newer forms are available as well.

Disks themselves also come into play as DR hardware. Keep in mind that many forms of replication tools rely on identical storage hardware at both the primary and DR sites. This means that implementing a DR strategy can dramatically increase a company's hardware budget, and you must address this issue when developing your DR solution.

In addition, many DR plans include backing up to a spinning disk. While this is a great way to achieve faster recovery times, it does require properly sizing the additional hardware resources required. Nothing's worse than having your DR systems running out of space to store data.

If you're planning on using hardware-based recovery technologies—especially hardware-based replication tools—make sure you account and plan for all necessary hardware before beginning implementation. For example, you may require channel extension devices or other tools to permit disk systems to talk to each other. VPN hardware is also often necessary to allow multiple users to access multiple data systems at both the primary and secondary locations.

And of course, you'll likely need to add some servers into your DR plan even if they won't be running applications at the DR site. Most platforms, including Windows Active Directory, Novell Directory Services, or DNS systems, require that directory services exist at both locations.

Making sure the proper hardware components are in place when implementing a DR solution requires proper planning and implementation at every step of the way. Failing to ensure you've obtained the right gear often results in budget overruns, wasted time waiting for shipments, and, most importantly, a longer period of time when your organization's data systems remain unprotected.

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