Why Recovery of Hybrid Environments is So Hard and What to Do About It - Interview with Ram Shanmugam of SunGard Availability Services

Ram Shanmugam (Profile)
Friday, January 11th 2013

VSM: The widely accepted view is virtualization makes disaster recovery easier. What challenges does it create?

RS: Virtualization technology delivers substantial benefits to not only production environments, but also in disaster recovery. However, while newer applications may run exclusively on virtual workloads, there are still many mission-critical applications running on a combination of mainframes: Windows servers, Linux/Unix systems and virtual machines. Addressing the recovery needs for an IT environment that is a mix of virtual and physical systems is complex. It also requires organizations to purchase a whole new set of costly application software licenses for the secondary location used for recovery.

VSM: What are the issues that enterprises need to examine when looking to recover hybrid environments?

RS: There are three top issues an organization needs to address. First, it needs to recreate a multi-layer, multi-platform hybrid stack for each mission-critical application. Next, the enterprise needs a plan that enables it to recover mission-critical applications within the time requirements required to avoid unacceptable consequences to the business, addressing the recovery time objective or RTO. And third, organizations need a recovery solution that works within financial constraints. These include avoiding busting the IT budget on CAPEX for building a secondary site for recovery and OPEX for maintaining the site.

VSM: Can you walk through a scenario that demonstrates why recovery in hybrid environments is so difficult?

RS: To better understand the complexity and difficulty in managing recovery in hybrid environments, let’s examine what an enterprise faces. The IT organization will typically have multiple storage platforms, multiple compute platforms, multiple operating systems, and a mix of physical and virtual environments. So when a disaster or outage hits, if the enterprise has not created the identical physical and virtual stacks in its recovery environment, the recovery will fail.

And add in another level of complexity. Most organizations are not just recovering one or two business applications. They may have 50, 80 or even more than 100 applications to recover. As these enterprises examine the challenge of recovering a large number of important applications – all with aggressive recovery time objectives – one can easily see why recovery in hybrid environments is so difficult.

Essentially, think of the challenge as having to move your entire data center from one location to the other in your recovery time objective, whether that’s four, eight, 24 or 48 hours.