Posts Tagged ‘Server Replication’

A Cloud Recovery Platform in Operation: Detailed Walk-Through

In the consideration of cloud-based recovery services, organizations need to understand more details of how cloud platforms are implemented for recovery. In this blog entry, I walk through the details of how SunGard has implemented a portion of its cloud recovery platform in support of the Recover2Cloud for Server Replication service.

Understanding a Virtual Data Center (VDC)

Within the cloud, one of the considerations for recovery is to ensure secure access to protected data. SunGard implements a dedicated VDC in the cloud using dedicated firewall protection for each client.  VPN connection is established between the firewall and a firewall in the client’s production location.

Within the targeted cloud, there is also a dedicated live virtual machine (VM) for each customer. This VM receives the replicated data, and writes the data as dormant VMDK files.

At time of disaster, SunGard recovery automation launches the VMDK files to bring the VMs live within the VDC. This is done using server processing capacity which is allocated on-demand within the cloud. SunGard provides public IP addresses for those VMs which are public Internet facing. SunGard also provides multiple VLANs for the recovered VMs. All of this is done behind an additional dedicated virtual firewall, to ensure secure access to the recovered application environment.

Failover At Time Of Test (ATOT)

Organizations require the capability to test failover without having to shut down their production environment. This avoids testing in off-hours, such as overnight and on holidays.

To accommodate this requirement, SunGard implements patent-pending sandbox testing using a dedicated test VDC which is separate from the recovery VDC in the SunGard cloud implementation. The basic idea is that prior to test, SunGard instantiates a virtual firewall, creates the required VLANs, sets up the firewall policies between the test VDC and the required servers that will be recovered for test.

An organization working with SunGard can then select the recovery points based on the test goals, which can be either to test crash-consistency of the data or application consistency.

When recovery is triggered, the dormant VMDKs go live behind the newly instantiated virtual firewall. The VMs are assigned appropriate IP addresses, VLANs and port groups as part of the recovery process. The order in which servers are restarted is configured and automated as part of the recovery process, as well, to ensure that the interdependent applications environment is restarted quickly and correctly without risk of human error.

Once the recovery is complete, organizations can use a VPN client to connect to the sandbox VDC test environment. This enables remote test. Remote administrators can even choose use this method as a better means to test for OS or service pack maintenance upgrades.

When organizations have a hybrid environment, they can also connect to hot site or recovered workgroup environments along with the VDC.

How Secure is the Cloud?

SunGard implements enterprise-class security as part of the recovery cloud platform. A Recover2Cloud VDC looks like a remote office network to a client, accessible using secure IPsec VPN tunnel connections. At network layer 2, every R2C customer VDC is isolated from other VDCs in the cloud by using separate VLANs. At network layer 3, each customer VDC is securely protected using dedicated firewalls.

Cloud-Based Recovery: A Preview of One Organization’s Experience

The move from tape as a basis for recovery, to replication as is provided in the SunGard Recover2Cloud for Server Replication service, offers many benefits. Benefits include:

  • Faster recovery time objectives (RTOs) — recovery is guaranteed by SunGard Recover2Cloud service at sub-4 hours for the entire mission-critical applications environment that is protected
  • Improved recovery point objectives (RPOs) — offered at near-zero with Server Replication capabilities
  • Transformed recovery testing — avoiding the common costs and burdens, such as lengthy time of test, tape transport and loading, problems with not having enough time to complete test

Yet organizations sometimes seem to hesitate in adopting modern recovery methods. In an upcoming webinar scheduled for 11.30, SunGard will interview two professionals at Acacia Federal Savings Bank who have made the transition to replication-based recovery with success. Acacia will share their experiences in the webinar first-hand, to help other organizations in evaluating the SunGard Recover2Cloud service.

Some of the insights which attendees of the upcoming webinar can expect, include:

  • How replication-based recovery compares to tape-based
  • Why SunGard’s patent-pending service implementation completely transformed Acacia’s test process
  • How replication complements Acacia’s backup-to-tape strategy

Interested to attend and ask your own questions? You can register now for the live event:

  • Anantomy of a Cloud-Based Recovery
  • November 30, 2011
  • 10 am Pacific/ 1pm Eastern

In addition to speaking with Acacia representatives, a demonstration of the Recover2Cloud Server Replication product will also be offered during the webinar.

Recovery Tests Do Not Need To Disrupt Applications Use with Patent-Pending Sandbox Service

A common concern often voiced by administrators who need to test applications and systems recovery, is that performing the test disrupts their application service. A test cannot be performed for recovery unless the production application is taken down. This is often the case, because the recovery site IP addresses (and machine name aliases in some cases) disrupt connectivity at the production site. To avoid this, the production applications must be taken offline during the test and then reconnected once the test is successfully complete.

Depending on the recovery process, the disruption period can last a long time. Annual disaster recovery testing can take days to perform. As described in previous entries on this blog site, disaster recovery testing can be especially time-consuming and challenging. Many organizations report not being able to get past “best-effort” testing as a result.

New Patent-Pending Capability from SunGard Enables Production Services to Keep Running Throughout Recovery Test

SunGard has introduced a new patent-pending test process designed to keep application services online throughout a remote-site recovery test. The process includes the creation of a Recover2Cloud(sm) virtual data center (VDC), and leverages cloud platform technology. In this process, all of the resources required to perform a recovery test are allocated on-demand. This includes management of firewall and security systems. Testing proceeds using a technology “sandbox” which is isolated from the network runnning the production application service.

sandbox test patent-pending

SunGard's Patent-Pending Sandbox Test Process

Using this new approach, organizations can now keep their production application environments up and running while using the SunGard test VDC for validating the viability of their Recover2Cloud configurations and other scenarios.

Also, because the approach leverages replication software built into the Recover2Cloud service suite, each customer can rest assured that their exact production environment is duplicated as a replica within the test VDC sandbox. This replica environment helps ensure that the recovery test is valid and reliable, to a degree not previously achievable without taking production systems off-line.

The test VDC approach does not utilize the Recover2Cloud disaster VDC resources. This helps ensure that in the unlikely event that an actual disaster is declared during test the recovery process to the Recover2Cloud disaster VDC proceeds without delay.

How Do You Estimate Network Bandwidth Requirements for Cloud Recovery Services?

 —-> By Kelly Baig
The most common questions that come up when selecting cloud-based recovery services, are all about the network. Common questions include:

  • How much network bandwidth will I need to replicate my data to the cloud?
  • How much will that cost me?
  • Can I share that network connection or must it be dedicated?
  • Am I simply trading one types of costs and burdens — like those associated with tape — which I know, for a new set of costs and burderns — with which I’m unfamiliar?

    Network questions like these often slow the process of modernizing data protection. Providing specific and precise answers to these questions is also difficult, as many variables affect network requirements. As a result, the common answer offered is “it depends.”

    Getting Past “It Depends”

    SunGard Availability Services offers a better answer than “it depends,” as part of its Recover2Cloud(sm) for Server Replication service. A patent-pending capability developed by SunGard and provided as part of the service, helps organizations to precisely scope the network bandwidth required to meet their precise Recovery Point Objective (RPO) for their specific application environment.

    Called the RPO Analysis Tool, this software uses data collected from the standard Windows Performance Monitor (PERFMON) utility. SunGard analysts work with client organizations to monitor the rate of change of data in the client’s application environment. SunGard recommends analysis of a week’s worth of data. Using this data, the patent-pending RPO Analysis Tool provides a series of detailed and summary reports which aid organizations in making better decisions about how much bandwidth they must have available to lower their risk of losing data. This precision helps organizations to know in advance how much they must spend on network bandwidth to lower their risk — and to make better informed decisions in advance of encountering problems down the road.

    Example of a Summary Report from SunGard's Patent-Pending RPO Analysis Tool

    Identifying Applications with “Replication-Unfriendly” Profiles

    Another benefit of the analysis tool is to reveal applications which generate unexpectedly high rates of change of data. Some applications, such as Microsoft Office applications, may re-write entire files on each use — even when a low amount of actual change has occurred in the file. Database maintenance, which often occurs off-hours, can also increase data change rates.

    However, so far the use of this tool has revealed that in most environments protected by SunGard services, network connection speeds of less than 10 Mbps are sufficient to provide 15 min RPO or less 95% of the time.