Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Traditional DR…and its Imminent Demise?


Backhoe Damaging Underground Lines

My primary focus at VMworld 2012 was Disaster Recovery, which caused me to think a fair amount about the future of DR in general—it’s necessity, utility, and longevity.  Have we really escaped “traditional” DR?  Will the methods employed today exist as we know them in 10 years, or just be another integral part of the infrastructure?

Each session invariably started off comparing the “traditional” disaster recovery of yesterday against the virtualization-enabled DR of today, where the old machinations are replaced with flipping a software switch.

With the exception of American National Bank’s and Varrow’s Active/Active datacenter (INF-BCO1883), I can’t help but see this as still being traditional DR—only with today’s tools.

Let’s take a look at some of the main points in “traditional” DR versus today’s:

  • Before virtualization, restoring to the same hardware used in production was a challenge. If it could not be met, time was wasted.  Virtualization gives us a common hardware set, eliminating those hardware compatibility woes. 

    While a valid point, what if you could always purchase bland hardware, generic x86 servers at Wal-Mart as a commodity, like that which virtualization presents to the OS?
  • Tapes could not always be restored and took too much time. Virtualization gets us to replication technologies that avoid tape.

    Excluding array-based replication, disk-to-disk-to-tape solutions with replication were pitched as disaster recovery aids 10 years ago, specifically to get around the problems of tape.
  • New systems/applications required new servers.

    You got me there. Virtualization wins, and I’m happy with that.

Same process, new tools—albeit faster, better, stronger tools. It’s still traditional DR to me.

Now enter Cloud-based DR.  With DR in the cloud, there is no need to lease or require that which remains idle. In essence, keep an off-site copy of your data—a Good Thing anyway—and pay for what you need when you need.  Disaster Recovery has now moved fully from capex to opex.  It’s cloud being used for what cloud is intended. 

But not at the application level.

In an application-centric world, everything behaves like the modern applications to which we’ve become accustomed.  We are blissfully unaware, yet fully appreciative of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and the like spanning multiple datacenters.  We aren’t exposed to datacenter failures that they may encounter and we shouldn’t be. Nor should your customers. 

Your line-of-business systems need to be heading this way, today, for it is the key to availability across datacenters and devices (EUC was a big push at VMworld this year).  They shouldn’t care any more about what datacenter they occupy than how many instances are deployed.

The pieces are there. We’re seeing the increased popularity of orchestration with the likes of Chef and Puppet (in no particular order). Infrastructure manipulation via APIs such as Amazon provides into their Elastic Load Balancer.  Data—big or otherwise—replication, and sharding is becoming commonplace.

The hold-outs are back office systems that won’t get where we need them to be soon enough, yet demonstrate significant movement in this direction when you consider Office 365 and the like.

Once achieved, is expanding from private to public cloud based on increased load any different than contracting from one to the other based on availability?

Private, public, or hybrid the cloud is an extension of your datacenter. It’s the elasticity of your workloads at web-scale, that need not be within one datacenter.  If well orchestrated, you have “simple” contractions of your cloud based on not only load, but availability.

I see the agile system encompassing multiple datacenters at any point in time, expanding and contracting as load and availability changes. This, will be the new DR—no DR.  Just a well-designed modern system.

What are your thoughts?

Takeaway: Developers need to be aware of infrastructure; this could be interesting.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tech Field Day Recap – Virtualization Field Day 2

I’ll have more on an individual session or two in the coming days, but I wanted to take the time to provide a brief recap of Virtualization Field Day 2.

It was great to see the familiar faces of Edward Haletky, Mike Laverick, Roger LundDavid Owen, and Rick Schlander while meeting Rodney Haywood, Bill Hill, Dwayne Lessner, Scott Lowe, Robert Novak, Brandon Riley, and Chris Wahl for the first time. It’s solid group of people on both personal and professional levels.

Day zero allowed time for all of the delegates to arrive and closed with a welcome dinner at Zeytoun. We had great food; our hometown gift exchange; a shrine and webcam chat with Stephen who was not able to make it to TFD for the first time, but for the right reason.

For sponsors on day one we had Symantec, who's competing strategy appeared to PowerPoint overload, Zerto with their solid continuous data protection DNA, and Xangati with their monitoring solutions and perfect bacon execution.

Day one ended with a private tour and mystery theatre at Winchester Mystery House.

On tap for day two was flashy Pure Storage, Pivot3 with their integrated storage and compute solution and W. Curtis Preston with TruthinIT for a “battle of the bloggers.”  To be honest, I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed that last session.

There was a lot of good content, but the ones that really appealed to me were Pure Storage, Zerto, Pivot3, and Xangati so I’ll summarize each of those briefly for now.

Pure Storage

Fast, cool, exciting technology in an environment that matches. Wowed by their space from when we walked in the door to their tech in the presentation and to the lab. And the Psycho Donuts seemed to go over well for many.  RBaaS (Red Bull as a Service) was saw a trial run as well.


Gil was back for another Tech Field Day and this time with CTO and Co-founder Oded Kedem to talk about the upcoming 2.0 release of their flagship BC/DR product. Zerto visited us at Tech Field Day 8 in Boston and won this year’s vmworld Best of Show.  Each time I’ve seen their tech I have wished that I worked in the segment to which it is marketed.


They came with an appliance, out of the box, configured it during the presentation in 40 minutes, and then used it in a demo. How great is that?  Pivot3’s tech DNA comes from the likes of Adaptec and Compaq and is branching out from the surveillance industry. Having founder and CTO Bill Galloway present showed their commitment to Tech Field Day.


Bacon, ice cream, and Star Wars references abound is not a bad way to start with this crowd, and Xangati appears to have one of the best monitoring products for your virtual infrastructure. They’ve been concentrating on VDI lately and their focus was on the VDI Dashboard.


We brought it all to a close at the end of day two with great food and conversation at Antonella’s.  Unfortunately Rodney Haywood could not join us; he needed to start his long journey home.


My travel, accommodations, and meals were paid for by the
Tech Field Day sponsors. Often there is swag involved as well. Like me, all TFD delegates are independents. We tweet, write, and say whatever we wish at all times, including during the sessions.

Follow the other delegates!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Virtualization Field Day Two

I am honored to have been invited back for another virtualization-themed Tech Field Day. For those unfamiliar, Tech Field Day is a great opportunity for vendors to get together on a technical level with independents that represent their target market.  It's a great short feedback loop that generates much excitement on both sides.

This second virtualization-themed event marks a big step for GestaltIT and Tech Field Day as Matt Simmons will be the primary "show runner", paving the way for expanded Tech Field Day events.  As a side note, this frees Stephen Foskett to be with his son as he is presented the award for winning the Ohio Civil Rights MLK Essay Contest. Go Grant!

This time around Symantec and Zerto return and are joined by Xangati, PureStorage, and Pivot3 and a blogger event with truthinIT.

Join us, February 23 and 24th and be sure to follow us on Twitter with hashtag #VFD2.

I look forward to seeing many familiar faces among the delegates and the opportunity to meet some new ones.