Network simulation technology can help you test clients' disaster recovery plans and ensure that they'll actually work.
IT disaster recovery (DR) has long been a primary focus of storage resellers. One of the main selling points for backup storage is that it helps businesses avoid interruption of critical operations in the event of a fire, power outage, hurricane or other disaster.
Recovering from disaster, however, is about more than protecting data. To continue functioning, a business may require secondary offsite servers, alternative network connections and the ability to relocate core personnel. Anyone selling storage as part of an overall DR strategy must look at the bigger picture as well.
Lack of disaster recovery plan testing
Unfortunately, most clients -- and most resellers -- are never totally sure that their DR plans will work when the time comes. They may consider multiple disaster scenarios. They may invest in what they hope will be adequate DR infrastructure. They may even test that infrastructure by having technicians access failover servers via failover network links. But they never fully validate their disaster recovery plan investments.
The need for such validation should not be underestimated. Say, for example, that your client replicates a critical server and locates it a safe distance from the primary data center. A technician tests the performance of this replicated server and it seems fine. So they believe they are safe.
But they're not. When end users access a replicated server that is physically farther from them than the primary server, their application sessions can take longer. These longer sessions can translate directly into reduced capacity. As a result the end user may experience unacceptable application performance during an emergency, despite the fact that everything looked OK on paper and with a single user.
Network simulation technology for disaster recovery testing
Here's where you can help as a value-added reseller (VAR). You can empower your clients to accurately replicate and test disaster recovery scenarios in a controlled lab setting using network simulation technology. This technology allows them to fully replicate the network conditions that would exist in the event of a real-world disaster, including all the characteristics of the network (such as latency and bandwidth constraints) and realistic traffic levels for all the applications needed to support the continuity of the business. They can then ensure that the DR infrastructure they put in place will in fact deliver required levels of service to all necessary end users in all locations.
They will also be able to "right size" their DR investments, and demonstrate to auditors and regulators that they have exercised appropriate diligence in formulating and executing their DR plans.
Of course, network simulation technology has many other important uses. It's helpful in capacity planning, evaluating new products and helping developers design applications that perform well under real-world network conditions. For storage resellers, its DR applicability makes it particularly appealing.
Extreme weather and concerns about terrorism have made business leaders more sensitive than ever about business continuity. You can address those sensitivities by delivering the right DR infrastructure solutions and the right technology for validating your clients' DR plans.
About the author: Amichai Lesser is the director of product marketing at Shunra, the pioneer and market leader in predicting how business applications and network services will perform for remote end-users – before deployment. He regularly presents at industry conferences, seminars and events. Amichai can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on Shunra, visit www.shunra.com.
This was first published in June 2007