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SAN disaster recovery opportunities for channel pros

SAN disaster recovery managed services allow channel pros to ensure customers that their data is safe. By pairing with the right vendor, resellers can offer disaster recovery plans that will keep clients' business running smoothly.

When it comes to disaster recovery (DR) and business continuance (BC) services for storage area networks (SANs) there are many options and opportunities for channel professionals. Basic services include BC and DR assessment, along with site review and business impact analysis. SAN disaster recovery solutions can be provided either independent of technology or solution sales, or as part of a technology, delivery and integration service.

A popular service for smaller organizations is managed off site network based backup. Off site network backup services rely on software that is deigned specifically for the needs of managed service providers from companies like Asigra and Evault (now Seagate). Similarly, if you already provide managed backup services, value can be added by providing a target for replication of data for more timely application recovery and restart.

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If you are selling SAN disaster recovery systems that support replication and other data protection features that rely on alternate sites, enhance your customer's environment and data protection by offering a destination for data to be protected and copied to. For example, storage systems from established vendors including EMC, Fujitsu, Dell, Hitachi, HP, IBM, LSI, NetApp and Sun as well as relative new comers 3PAR, BlueArc, EqualLogic, and Left-hand among others have built-in controller or subsystem based remote replication and data mirroring.

Data replication and remote mirroring is not the exclusive domain of storage system vendors as host server and network based solutions are available from Asempra, CA, Double-take, EMC, FalconStor, IBM and NetApp among many others.

Managed service providers can also provide management and diagnostics of client's environment using data protection management tools such as those from vendors including Aptare, Bocada, EMC, Symantec and WysDM.

If you host data for customers there is another SAN disaster recovery or business continuance service you can provide. By taking advantage of technology from vendors like Imation, Quantum and Prostor, you can add the ability to create a rapid recovery disk using large capacity removable hard disk drives.

This rapid recovery DR plan can be combined with fireproof and waterproof network based backup and replication storage devices to hold critical data that may be otherwise exposed during asynchronous data copy over slow network links from remote sites. To enhance data protection, you can provide data footprint reduction related services involving compression, compaction, deduplication or single instancing technologies, along with archiving solutions.

For clients that need data protection that includes reduced recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO), offer -- either through your own company or in conjunction with a hosting facility -- hot standby capabilities for rapid failover and restart of applications to support business continuance.

Channel pros are finding server virtualization is part of SAN disaster recovery solutions., There is a natural affinity to provide an integrated BC and DR solution and services for your clients, and Xen or VMware are two vendors you can usually rely on.

If customers are relying on VMware and VMotion to migrate or restart servers because of a planned outage or disaster, the last thing a customer wants is not to be able to access their data. Consequently, by combing VMware consolidated backup (VCB) enabled backup and replication solutions, you can provide rapid application restart capabilities.

About the author: Greg Schulz is founder and Sr. analyst of the independent storage analyst firm the StorageIO group ( and author of the book Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier).

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