If you have built your data fail-over strategy wisely, your full site and applications can be moved with just one push of a button following a disaster recovery event.
In the event of a power failure, thanks to your backup team and advisors, your production site (original environment where all your files are stored) has successfully switched over to the secondary site, and your data is in one piece.
“Let’s say your enterprise runs between 60 to 70 servers, backup and disaster recovery solutions such as Veeam can orchestrate the whole failover, automatically powering up all the virtual machines over to Disaster Recovery in a predetermined order. You accomplish this by first by developing a fail-over plan that can be programmed into Veeam,” says Stephen Seagrave, Solutions Architect.
“It gives automated instructions that will spin up the virtual machines on your secondary site during a fail-over event. Instructions inputted can then define timing delays between servers to allow for databases to be available before your app servers’ boot.“This will allow the application services to come online without subsequent reboots. Once you have defined and configured the correct boot order in the fail-over plan, you click the one button and your entire site is up and running.”
Now that your production site has returned, the real challenge can occur when you’re attempting to return your systems home to your production site.
Stephen explains the challenge that many companies face when moving from the secondary site back to the production site:
“If you’re in Disaster Recovery (DR) mode for a day or even a week, your environment has been changing. Data has been added, modified and removed across your entire system; database updates, financial programs have inputted new entries, and new files or documents have been added or modified. Essentially, you have two separate channels of production.”
How do you amalgamate the two systems following a Disaster Recovery event?
There is a solution created by Veeam to provide a Disaster Recovery management solution that allows in-house IT staff to orchestrate fail-over and fail-back in an efficient and controlled manner, without massive cost in staff training or maintenance resources.
Stephen explains the process:
“Fail-back capabilities allows your vSphere to keep a list of every block (a block of data on storage or SAN) that changes which is then kept as a snapshot within the virtual infrastructure. Veeam allows you to sync all those changes back to your production servers by utilising the fail-back instruction. This one instruction re-syncs the changes that happened in DR which then updates the production servers. When all your servers are in sync, the production site and secondary site now have the same data.
Veeam can then safely power down the DR servers, do one last sync and then power up production.”
The reality of disaster recovery is that you can’t choose when a disaster happens, but you can choose when to fully recover from it.
The real benefit of Veeam is that once power to your production site has returned, even on a large site the sync between secondary and production sites can occur over the weekend to fail-back data. So by Monday morning, systems are back running in production, with no further downtime and production disruption for users.
“With our clients, we’re also implementing Veeam Sure Replica which automates test procedures. This means that it periodically powers on your secondary sites to test that it’s in a bootable state. The software is automated so it can be scheduled on weekly or monthly intervals, and there’s zero impact on your production site, this technology can also be applied to your backups allowing you to prove your backups are in good shape without manual workload.” says Stephen.
This is hugely important for data compliance which most companies now need to prove that data can be backed up in a secure and comprehensive manner, following the arrival of GDPR last year.
“Due to the fact that the test history is immutable (un-editable), Veeam Sure Replica is also fully auditable which further enhances your data compliance strategy.
“It’s advised that weekly or even monthly testing is more than sufficient. And your team can receive email reports from every test, down to however many times they test and it’s completely non-impacting on production as it occurs on your secondary site,” adds Stephen.