Businesses are demanding faster recovery times and finer recovery points, the number of critical applications they need to protect is on the rise, and the volume of data that must be backed up is exploding. And yet, by almost any measure, the cost of high availability and business continuity is falling.
Enterprise-grade storage has gotten significantly cheaper, and so has bandwidth. Even the software required for disaster recovery costs significantly less than it did just a few years ago.
"Previously just to protect maybe three terabytes to ten terabytes of data cost over a million dollars in software, and today you can do it for 30 to 50 thousand," says David Self, vice president of systems engineering at InMage Systems. "Prices are definitely coming down from a bandwidth, storage, and software standpoint."
Self points to a fourth factor that's helping to drive down the cost of high availability: server virtualization. He says that roughly 75 percent of InMage Systems customers are using virtual servers in their disaster recovery sites, leveraging the support of InMage's business continuity solution for physical-to-virtual fail-over.
Vendors such as PlateSpin and Scalent Systems are also helping customers reduce the number of physical servers required for disaster recovery. At the same time, server virtualization platforms -- most notably VMware -- are helping companies such as PTC achieve high availability within the walls of the datacenter.
A software company in Needham, Mass., PTC's business continuity strategy involves creating standard configurations, managed using Opsware tools, and ensuring that virtual images of those configs are all catalogued and able to be recreated wherever they might need to be.
"We standardized on VMware for both Linux and Windows using VMotion across the board," notes the company's vice president of IT, Greg Wolf. "Everything has a hotsite within the same datacenter."
For providers of disaster recovery and hotsite services such as SunGard Availability Services, virtualization technologies provide ways to offer customers more flexibility at lower cost. John Lindeman, vice president of advanced recovery product management at SunGard Availability Services, says the company is tapping virtualization in systems, storage, and the network to fit customers more quickly and readily into SunGard's fail-over and recovery environment.
"The whole discipline of adopting [customers'] production to our recovery has been an imperfect science because we may not have the exact components as they have in the flavor they have it," Lindeman says. "With virtualization we can adopt more quickly and more cost effectively."