Archive for the ‘Mobile Commuting’ Category

Effective Cloud disaster recovery

December 12, 2011

As the cloud gains steam and expands, disaster recovery has become more effective. Creative ideas involving replication have evolved as it pertains to recovery solutions for disasters.  Not always inexpensive, the best solutions provide almost instant recovery times.

Continuous data protection (CDP) using virtual machines for data replication in the cloud is probably the most reliable solution to date.

(For the purposes of this discussion, bandwidth is plentiful and security procedures have been established.)

There are two very good solutions for CDP disaster recovery on virtual machines:

1. Pure cloud  

This solution is straight forward. If you’re running your applications purely on the cloud, with nothing local, then the managed service provider (MSP) can be responsible for disaster recovery. If the primary cloud site fails, a secondary cloud site will take over with a “flick of the switch” of duplicate data and virtual machines running the applications. After recent outages at Amazon’s AWS, MSPs are ensuring they have more reliable disaster recovery solutions.

2. Replication to virtual machines from local systems

This solution works well for companies that want their data on the premises, as well as in the cloud. There are a few steps:

a.   Service provider installs an on-premise device that replicates all local data.

b.   On-premise system replicates with virtual machines in the cloud.

c.   In the event of an on-premise disaster, the “switch is flipped,” and the virtual machines in the cloud take over.

Cloud software capable of replication include CommVault Continuous Data Replicator, EMC Atmos and the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP). IBM, AppAssure, Iron Mountain, and Simply Continuous also provide these disaster recovery cloud services.

Remember, these solutions must be clearly identified in any service-level agreement (SLA) with the MSP. A key element will be the recovery time objectives (RTO). How long can the system be down before the business is impacted?  There are some key areas you want to make sure are covered, and that you fully understand, to make sure they meet your business needs and that no surprises come up should disaster strike.

1. Read the Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Read and understand the SLA being offered by your cloud service provider. Understand what constitutes a disaster, ask questions and walk through scenarios to be sure you fully understand what constitutes a disaster and the specifics around a DR event. Who declares a disaster, what processes and technologies are in place to minimize the impact to customers, and how long will it take to restore service. If a few hours of downtime seems like an eternity, and if your business cannot survive it, a cloud service may not be right for you.

2. Recovery Point Objective

The word disaster implies that bad things have happened, and when it comes to an IT service, that usually implies data loss. Make sure you understand the recovery point objective of the service so you know just how much data loss is possible in the event disaster strikes.

3. Recovery Time Objective

Communicate to all stakeholders the time that has been agreed to in your Service Level agreement for recovering from the disaster.  Make sure that all stakeholders have agreed to the recovery time before signing up with the cloud service.

Finally, RIM Playbook can get email…

July 6, 2011

Last week U.S. wireless carrier AT&T finally put its stamp of approval on Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry Bridge app, which lets BlackBerry smart phone users access their BlackBerry mail, contacts, and calendar.  The BlackBerry PlayBook does not currently support native e-mail or PIM, so BlackBerry users on AT&T have thus far been unable to access their BlackBerry e-mail and PIM via PlayBook. However, email and online calendars are accessible via the PlayBook browser—and crafty users can also download the app “unofficially” from other websites. RIM did promise native PlayBook e-mail and PIM apps, but it already failed to keep its word that the apps would be released within two months after launch.

The BlackBerry PlayBook was initially released in April, and AT&T is the only major U.S. carrier that did not support Bridge at launch.  AT&T said it wanted more time to test the app before approving it, and it looks as though on July 1st they issued its official okay.

AT&T will reportedly allow users to access BlackBerry e-mail and PIM free via PlayBook using a secure Bluetooth connection, but users looking to employ their BlackBerry smartphones’ Internet connections to access the Web via PlayBook will need to shell out $20 a month extra for a tethering plan. The BlackBerry PlayBook is only available in Wi-Fi versions now, so it needs a separate Internet connection for Web access.

PlayBook sales so far have been less than impressive, and AT&T’s hesitancy to support the Bridge app no doubt played some role in this equation. RIM said it sold some 500,000 PlayBooks in the first quarter following its release (not a terribly low number), but it also recently cut sales forecasts for the PlayBook by more than 50% due to an expected decrease in consumer interest around the tablet.