The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

The Secret Value of WAN Optimization – Optimized Disaster Recovery

Posted by bobegilbert on February 9, 2010


In one of my recent blog posts, I talked about the ABCD's of WAN Optimization where I spotlighted some of the key IT initiatives where WAN optimization provides high value.  While application acceleration, bandwidth optimization, and consolidation are IT initiatives that are becoming more aligned with WAN optimization solutions, disaster recovery (DR) tends to be an initiative that is not often thought of as being related.  This is more of a market perception, but the reality is that WAN optimization can be critical in the success of any DR or business continuity strategy.

Most DR strategies share a common goal and that is to protect data in the event of a disaster.  The data needs to be backed up and recoverable in a certain amount of time.  The amount of time it takes to recover data from a disaster or how long you can go without your application or data is the recovery time objective (RTO).  The obvious goal is to recover as quickly as possible and for some organizations, the longer it takes to recover, the more costly to their business.  Not only is there the need to recover data quickly, there is also the requirement to ensure that the data being recovered is relatively new and not data that is from several hours, days, or even weeks ago.  How much data can you afford to lose?  If you last performed a backup 18 hours ago and a disaster occurs, your backup contains data that is 18 hours old.  This is known as the recovery point objective (RPO).

There are a couple of key challenges in achieving a strict RTO and RPO.  For one, data created by organizations is ever growing and the result is that hundreds of gigabytes to multiple terabytes of data needs to be backed up daily.  Combine this hefty data backup requirement with the fact that the backup needs to go over a wide area network in order to reach the backup data center.  The inefficiencies of the network combined with the high latency cripples performance.  Big bandwidth is not the solution either.  You can invest in an OC-12 622Mps link or event a dedicated GigE connection between data centers, but organizations cannot get near the throughput they need to complete their replication jobs.  It is not uncommon to get 70Mbps of throughput out of your 622Mbps link.  If replication jobs don't complete in time, then your RTO and RPO goals are not being met.

This is where WAN optimization comes to the rescue.  Place a Riverbed Steelhead appliance at each data center and through a combination of WAN-based data de-duplication and TCP optimization techniques, organizations can dramatically increase throughput performance.  Meet replication time targets, replicate more often, and more importantly, recover from a disaster more quickly and with data that is fresher.

As timing would have it, Riverbed announced today a groundbreaking WAN optimization appliance platform for tackling even the most demanding replication jobs.  The Steelhead 7050 raises the bar when it comes to scalability and performance for tackling the most demanding DR environments.  The 7050 is also equipped to handle large hub and spoke data center to branch office environments when you are deploying a WAN optimization solution for IT consolidation.

The net-net is that WAN optimization and Riverbed in particular, should be considered for any DR initiative.  Below is a recent video covering Riverbed and disaster recovery.

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