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Failback in Seconds: Customers Share Disaster Recovery Stories From the Data Center

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Hurricanes, floods, cyberattacks, and simple human error — I’m sure you’ve heard your share of these types of data center disaster stories. Some disasters are predictable and give you plenty of time to prepare. Businesses in the “tornado belt,” for example, experience a much higher probability of weather-related outages in certain months and can plan ahead. Other businesses, unfortunately, get completely blindsided. For the unprepared, recovery often proves to be impossible.

So why doesn’t every IT department have a bullet-proof disaster recovery (DR) plan in place? Typically, organizations have a myriad of perfectly good reasons: other projects take priority, current backups seem to be good enough, or staff is unavailable to work on a DR strategy. Even businesses with a DR plan are at risk if the plan is untested or complicated to operate, or if recovery doesn’t happen fast enough to mitigate damages.

Keep it simple

The reality is that preparing for disaster recovery can be daunting, but you can create a solid plan in a few short steps if you invest some time up front. To begin with, select a solution that is easy to deploy and can provide a simple recovery process. You’ll benefit most from a flexible infrastructure that is easy to maintain when future adjustments are needed. Work backwards from there to build out a recovery plan to protect your data. Once your plan is in place, test it regularly so it can be executed by almost anyone — if you’ve chosen a simple solution, testing should require very little time and effort.

Below I summarize how four different businesses implemented simple, yet effective, DR plans using hyperconverged infrastructure. They represent different industries and range in size from small local businesses to midsize enterprises with multiple remote office sites around the globe. Yet, they all have one thing in common: When disaster struck, their data centers were back up and running quickly with minimal or no data loss.

Weathering a Florida hurricane

Florida is no stranger to natural disasters. Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, a land management and agri-business in Manatee and Sarasota counties, set up a resilient hyperconverged infrastructure in its data center shortly before it got hit by Hurricane Irma. Aaron Brosseau, system administrator at the ranch, was relieved to have his data protected by the new solution. With a DR plan in place, they were able to bring their data center back up quickly after the storm. “The current DR setup is a relief,” he said, “because I never have an issue with the backups now. I simply check them every week just to make sure everything still stays protected.” He went on to say, “I see no real downsides to hyperconvergence. It makes so much more sense than any other option we considered.” Read Brosseau’s story.

Surviving disaster thanks to ‘proof-of-concept’ system

When McCullough Robertson refreshed its storage devices, the Australian law firm re-examined its entire IT stack. The company decided to temporarily deploy a hyperconverged system to test the new technology in its production environment. Two weeks later, the company had a system power outage in Brisbane. According to IT Systems Engineer Brodon Hirst, “The entire building was turned off, and we had to failover to our Sydney data center. We were still only in the ‘proof-of-concept’ stage for our DR failover, which made it all the more nerve-wracking.” The hyperconverged system was instrumental in bringing their data back online fast. Hirst brought 50 mission-critical VMs up, “late on a Friday night, whereas our previous DR exercises took an entire day…. These systems were then failed back at the end of the weekend… with the only outage to the business taking place when the connection cutover occurred.” Read the full story.

Recovering from a cyberattack

Worth & Co., full-service mechanical contractors in the eastern US, wanted to modernize its infrastructure, simplify management, and cut costs. CIO Woody Muth was not disappointed with the solution they chose. The firm replaced three full equipment racks of legacy gear with three 2U hyperconverged nodes in its data center, and three additional nodes in another location. The geographically distributed configuration helps to ensure continuous availability in the event of hardware failures or application mishaps. “The product’s built-in data protection capabilities were a major differentiator for us…. When hit with the CryptoWall virus, we were able to restore all of our critical applications to a known working state within a matter of hours.” Read the whole story.

Running DR tests, fails back in seconds

Brigham Young University College of Life Sciences had a long list of requirements for its new infrastructure: minimize downtime and OPEX; reduce management hours; and provide single vendor accountability, easy implementation, and offsite disaster recovery. Its hyperconverged solution delivered on all of that, within budget, and fully guaranteed. The college tested the failover capabilities and watched it failback in seconds. In system administrator Danny Yeo’s words, “I was blown away.” Watch the video clip.

All of these customers have one thing in common: HPE SimpliVity.  The award-winning hyperconverged solution provides three powerful capabilities that help business prepare for disasters: a resilient hyperconverged infrastructure, built-in data protection features, and an extremely simple data recovery process. HPE SimpliVity powered by Intel® also offers HPE RapidDR, an optional software program that guides you through disaster recovery planning, and provides a 1-click failback feature for recovery. You can learn more about the feature and how to combat cyberattacks in this whitepaper on mitigating ransomware risks.

Comprehensive backup and recovery plans are an essential part of business. HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged solutions are inherently simple, and built-in data protection can help reduce the risk of data loss through natural and human-caused disasters. If a disaster does hit your data center, the benefits of a resilient DR solution extend far beyond simple peace of mind.

To learn more about how hyperconvergence can help your IT, download the free e-book: Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Dummies.

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About Jesse St. Laurent

jesse st laurent


Jesse St. Laurent is the Chief Technologist for HPE Hyperconverged and SimpliVity. He uses his 20 years of experience to engage channel partners, evaluate emerging technologies, and shape innovative technology solutions involving data center modernization.

To read more articles from Jesse St. Laurent, check out the HPE Converged Data Center Infrastructure blog.