05/03/11

By David Blackman, General Manager, Northern Europe, Acronis

Virtualisation and Cloud Computing have been touted for the last few years as the panacea for the IT industry and, in a time of economic uncertainty, both have the ability to help companies get the most out of their existing server and storage infrastructure. With both technologies at the forefront of the IT debate once again, what effect are they having on the backup and recovery arena?

In today’s business environment, organisations are presented with three different platforms for their disaster recovery strategies: physical, virtual and cloud. Each platform has its own unique challenges and benefits. Some organisations will opt to keep purely physical, others will encompass virtualisation and the more adventurous will opt to use physical, virtual and the cloud.

Ultimately the success of a company’s backup and recovery is based on the availability of its systems and the external impact that associated downtime has in terms of lost revenue and lost customers, regardless of the environment your data and systems are held in. However, the potential that cloud services and virtualisaton have for improving the age old question of disaster recovery is very exciting.

For SMBs what underpins a service’s success is its ability to deliver ease of use, cost effectiveness and flexibility, and to implement measures quickly so there is a near immediate impact for the business. Both cloud services and virtualisation have the capabilities to do this.

For instance, online backup services (Cloud) are easy to set up and use, with a minimal learning curve — critical for IT managers with little time to spare. All that is required is a computer, a browser and a good internet connection.

One of the most exciting features is the ability to move beyond file based backup in the cloud. Presently SMBs rarely have enough resources for their own data centres. Companies now have the power to implement a complete disaster recovery strategy in the cloud. This combination offers SMBs the ultimate protection, ensuring that business continuity becomes easier to manage. SMBs are able to back up and recover full files, applications and operating systems remotely.

When we turn to virtualisation, we see that businesses are shifting from a model where they used to apply for the budget to deploy physical servers, order in the hardware, rack up and then build the servers. The entire process would take around three weeks. Now, you simply right click, clone and add a new server. You can be up and running within 30 minutes. This offers businesses flexibility and cuts costs.

Essentially, we are living in a hybrid world. Harmonising the benefits of these three pillars, managing the transition in-between the environments and analysing which is the best combination for your organisation will prove evolutionary for disaster recovery strategies. The three platforms (physical, virtual, cloud) may not necessarily offer the definitive solution to organisation’s DR pain points (and who knows what changes will be introduced in the next 10 years). However, it is certainly moving SMBs in the right direction by providing flexibility, cost savings, choice and efficiencies, and the most comprehensive solution available today.