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Business Continuity Planning for Maximizing Data Center Uptime

Virtualization helps reduce overall data center requirements

Next to ensuring the safety, health and well being of your employees, the next most important Business Continuity task is resuming business-critical operations. Keeping servers highly available is what likely keeps most data center managers up at night. There is a higher probability that most data centers will be affected by a virus, hardware failure, power failure or upgrade gone wrong than by a more disastrous weather-related event like wind, fire or rain. However, planning for the smallest interruption of business operations will help ensure your company's assets will be able to operate at a functional level in a more severe disaster event.

In 2006, a full-service, international law firm, devised a comprehensive business continuity plan that required a duplicate data center to support the entire firm. The team chose to focus their Business Continuity Planning efforts on uptime versus just the ability to recover the data and applications after an outage. "The difference is that disaster recovery focuses on the recovery aspect," said Eric Anderson Director of Technical Services at Sonnenschein. "Business continuity, on the other hand, focuses on the keeping the business running at all times without users ever seeing any sort of downtime, planned or unplanned."

Data center managers are often just one piece of a corporate Business Continuity Plan, but they are near the top regarding the importance of their role. Once the company has approved the decision to move forward with a comprehensive plan, it's often left to the BCP team members to fill in the details. When looking for vendors to help support their business continuity vision, Sonnenschein turned to other law firms for advice. "The International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) is a collegial group of members. We all talk. It quickly became clear that Double-Take Software had a great reputation in the group," said Eric Anderson. "Due to its strong relationship with ILTA and its members, Double-Take Software immediately made the short list for possible solutions."

Duplicating your most business critical systems for high availability will not only help reduce a single point of failure in the event of a disaster, it can also ease the management abilities of the data center team. Speaking about the Sonnenschein facility, Anderson said, "It is a co-location facility, not a disaster recovery facility. It is extremely important that both have equal designs, capacities and architectures. With two data centers it makes us less vulnerable and ensures uninterrupted business continuity."

Because all vendors release hot fixes and or service patches once a month or more, the potential downtime alone to apply these will interrupt your business operations. Now multiply that by the number of applications you are running, by the number of operating systems, hardware, networking, communication...etc., and it is a wonder how a data center manager keeps any uptime at all.

The support of the company and approval of a BCP mission statement committing continued support to the BCP can come in handy later on should your initial risk assessment or impact analysis determine a higher cost than anticipated. Those costs can and often include co-location facility in order to resume business operations. However, the costs of creating a co-location facility can be offset by the guaranteed availability of your systems, the productivity of your employees, as well as the satisfaction of your customers.

Welcome to the wonderful world wonder of virtualization! Virtualizing can cut your cost of duplicating a data center in half if not more by reducing the amount of hardware, space, and power you will need to help support your need to resume business operations. Add in consolidating servers from remote branches back to a primary location and now you have just eased your ability to manage multiple systems from a single location.

Some BCP members say that distance is the best way to plan for a regional disaster. Proponents will say a co-location facilitates ease of management What ever side you are on, you can't disagree that consolidating helps you manage your environment more efficiently. Specifically if during that consolidation process, you are virtualizing your machines to help reduce overall data center requirements and logistics for supporting the number of servers you are consolidating for your co-location. And managing your environment more efficiently can only help you maximize your uptime and help resume business operations quicker.

More Stories By Brace Rennels

Brace Rennels is a passionate and experienced interactive marketing professional who thrives on building high energy marketing teams to drive global web strategies, SEO, social media and online PR web marketing. Recognized as an early adopter of technology and applying new techniques to innovative creative marketing, drive brand awareness, lead generation and revenue. As a Sr. Manager Global of Website Strategies his responsibilities included developing and launching global social media, SEO and web marketing initiatives and strategy. Recognized for applying innovative solutions to address unique problems and manage business relationships to effectively accomplish enterprise objectives. An accomplished writer, blogger and author for several publications on various marketing, social media and technical subjects such as industry trends, cloud computing, virtualization, website marketing, disaster recovery and business continuity. Publications include CIO.com, Enterprise Storage Journal, TechNewsWorld, Sys-Con, eWeek and Peer to Peer Magazine. Follow more of Brace's writing on his blog: http://bracerennels.com

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