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VMblog's Expert Interviews: NAKIVO Backup & Replication Talks the Importance and Challenges of Site Recovery

 

Today, businesses of all sizes are potential victims of disasters. Disasters come in different forms, and contrary to a common misconception, downtime is not always caused by natural catastrophes. Power outages, hardware failure, human error, viruses, and data corruption happen, and in most cases, they are beyond our control. While the majority of disasters cannot be prevented, businesses can mitigate the risks by maximizing their site recovery preparedness. To understand more about site recovery and its role in ensuring uninterrupted business operation, I reached out to Bruce Talley, CEO of NAKIVO.

VMblog:  Can you start off by providing a little background on NAKIVO?

Bruce Talley:  NAKIVO is a fast-growing data protection software vendor based in the US. The company was founded in 2012 with a flagship product designed for VMware backup and replication. Since that time our focus expanded to provide comprehensive data protection for other platforms as well, including Hyper-V backup and AWS EC2 backup. As of today, thousands of businesses in over 130 countries rely on NAKIVO Backup & Replication as their primary solution for protection of their virtualized environments.

Over the course of our development, we have released more than 20 versions of the product, constantly improving the solution to better meet the needs of our valued customers. Our users are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of effective site recovery processes. That's why we are now dedicating greater efforts to enhancing and developing relevant functionality. With its Site Recovery feature, v8.0 has taken NAKIVO Backup & Replication to a whole new level in terms of DR capabilities.

VMblog:  What does successful site recovery depend on and what are the challenges of ensuring effective site recovery for virtualized environments?

Talley:  I would say successful site recovery depends on a combination of factors. The ability to set the right priorities, having properly trained IT stuff, a strong site recovery plan, and regular testing are all important components. That being said, I firmly believe the key to successful site recovery lies in choosing the right solution for handling unexpected events.  

For successful site recovery operations, it is critical to have a solution that offers great performance, includes complete site recovery functionality (not just standard backups), allows recovery scenarios to be tested, and is easy to use. If all these elements are in place, a company should have no trouble getting their business-critical resources back up and running.   

VMblog:  Can you name the best site recovery practices that enterprises with virtualized infrastructures should follow?

Talley:  First of all, businesses utilizing virtualization in their IT infrastructures should keep in mind that virtual environments are different from traditional ones, and thus their protection requires a different approach. It's amazing how many businesses continue to rely on data protection solutions designed solely for physical environments, which are simply not effective in virtualization. Switching to virtualization-aware solutions is not optional but obligatory.

Secondly, site recovery activities should not be limited to backups only. Site recovery is a complex and comprehensive process that involves much more than just recovering from a backup. For example, if a local incident were to occur, you could easily lose your entire primary site, including hardware, backup software, networks, configurations, and everything that makes up your production infrastructure. This would render your backups useless, even if you did have them.        

Educate your staff about site recovery to gain their support and ensure prompt reaction in the event of a disruption. Businesses with large infrastructures should never rely on one person to be responsible for the success of site recovery. In the ideal scenario, there should be an automated site recovery plan; your staff members should know which button to hit in order to launch the plan. Then, simply let the solution do the rest.

Regardless of the scale of your infrastructure, if you lose your business-critical data or experience downtime, you can expect to lose revenue. The majority of disasters cannot be foreseen or prevented, but you can ensure that you are adequately prepared for them to minimize downtime and mitigate the consequences. That's why a site recovery plan matters. If your solution allows for automation of site recovery plans, that's even better, as you can save time, effort, and money.

In your site recovery plan, consider what parts of your infrastructure should be recovered first; not all of your VMs are equally critical for continuous business operation. While devising a site recovery plan, set the right priorities with regards to your RTOs.  

Site recovery plans must be tested. Having a plan in place does not mean it works. The first time you test your site recovery plan, you are likely to find out that not everything went exactly as expected. A plan that isn't sufficiently tested makes recovery from an actual disaster much more unlikely. Identify the problem areas, fix what went wrong, and repeat. Develop a habit of running tests on a regular basis, as changes in your infrastructure, environment, data loads, and personnel can affect the execution of your plan.        

VMblog:  When choosing the right site recovery solution, what are the considerations?

Talley:  The rule of thumb here is to never buy before you try the solution. When you find a product that seems to meet your initial expectations, make sure there is a free trial. This is how you can ascertain whether the vendor actually delivers everything they promised.

Basically, I believe performance, functionality, automation, usability, scalability, and ability to test are the top factors to consider when choosing a site recovery solution. If the solution includes all of these and comes with an affordable price tag, then it's the right choice.       

VMblog:  How can NAKIVO Backup & Replication assist with DR?

Talley:  As I already mentioned, v8.0 of NAKIVO Backup & Replication includes a new feature designed to assist with DR. Our solution now offers a complete set of functionality for automation and orchestration of site recovery activities. Users can combine conditions and actions (including VM failover with re-IP and network mapping) to build their own custom Site Recovery jobs, then run them whenever needed. This way, they can ensure uninterrupted business operation, or recovery within the shortest RTOs.

Site recovery jobs can be run in just a few clicks. You don't waste any time and can proceed directly to disaster recovery activities once disaster strikes. This is useful in the event of a planned migration or a suspected upcoming power outage, or if you simply wish to test your SR procedures.

Our Site Recovery feature is incredibly flexible; multiple jobs can be created to cover different scenarios, and jobs can run on a schedule in test mode. The feature is intuitive and user-friendly. This is crucial, since I've recently found out that almost 40% of IT professionals believe that site recovery solutions are too difficult to use. This is certainly not the case with NAKIVO Backup & Replication, as our site recovery tool, like the rest of the product's functionality, was designed with ease of use in mind.

VMblog:  Finally, how is your site recovery functionality different from what is offered by the competition?

Talley:  One major factor that sets us apart from the competition is NAKIVO Backup & Replication's affordability. All site recovery automation and orchestration functionality is built into our data protection product, which costs significantly less than solutions designed specifically for DR. While it was already a cost-effective solution, NAKIVO Backup & Replication now offers users even more value.

Moreover, while the licensing policy of most solutions on the market is based on a per-VM basis,  NAKIVO Backup & Replication users are charged per CPU socket, letting them pay only a fraction of the cost.

Again, although the modern market offers various DR solutions, many IT professionals still do not have one in place because they are sure these solutions are too confusing in terms of user experience. NAKIVO Backup & Replication includes a simple and intuitive web interface, allowing even novice users to master the SR functionality with ease.      

Another distinct advantage is our integration with NAS servers such as those sold by ASUSTOR, NETGEAR ReadyNAS, QNAP, Synology, and Western Digital. Users can install NAKIVO Backup & Replication directly on supported NAS servers for a powerful combination of site recovery functionality and reliability. The appliance includes everything needed for effortless site recovery: backed-up VM data, site recovery software, and reliable hardware. By simply moving the appliance to a secondary location, companies can exponentially improve their site recovery preparedness.

While designing the Site Recovery feature we drew inspiration from the best practices in the industry, while preserving and integrating all our core data protection functionality. NAKIVO Backup & Replication has just entered a new market - the market of dedicated site recovery solutions - and the product is disrupting it. We are still young. We're planning even more features that should further improve the SR experience down the pipeline, but we are already one step ahead of the competition.

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Published Tuesday, August 28, 2018 8:01 AM by David Marshall
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