The Riverbed Blog (testing)

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Taneja Group asks, “Is cloud-enabled DR is ready for prime time?” Riverbed says YES!

Posted by riverbedtest on February 25, 2011

(by Steve Riley and Evan Marcus)

Yes Last month, in an article at InfoStor.com, Jeff Byrne and Jeff Boles of The Taneja Group wondered aloud, Is cloud-enabled DR ready for prime time?  Here at Riverbed, we can confidently answer yes, indeed it is.

Implementing processes and technology for disaster recovery is like going to the dentist: no one enjoys it (well, perhaps dentists and this kid do) but if you don’t do it, eventually your organization will be in a world of hurt and you might be out of a job. Jeff and Jeff quote an Dentist-horrorinformal statistic that 25% of their readers have experienced unplanned outages. We hope you’ll never be part of that. If, however, someday happens to you, then with a little planning, your trip to the DR dentist will go much easier.

We agree with the claim that cloud-based DR eliminates much of the pain traditional approaches impose. While the authors correctly state that cloud-based DR is “a recipe matched to SME needs,” large enterprises, too, can derive the same benefits. In their article, Jeff and Jeff enumerate six challenges that cloud-based DR brings. We’ll briefly discuss how Riverbed’s new Whitewater Cloud Storage Accelerator Appliance (or just "Whitewater") addresses each of them.

  1. Ease of Use: One of the biggest challenges that IT organizations face as they migrate DR to the cloud is that they have to change their infrastructure. They need backup utilities that speak cloud protocols. And then they still have to maintain the old stuff so that they can recover data from the existing DR infrastructure. With Whitewater you don’t have to change your existing backup product at all. You just point your current backup tool at the Whitewater’s NFS or CIFS front-end, and send the backups there just as you always have. 100% compatibility. No need to change technologies. What could be easier?
  2. Security: Whitewater protects your data in transit with SSL and in storage (local and cloud) with 256-bit AES encryption. The data is never stored or transported in cleartext after it leaves its original location. The encryption key is stored in the Whitewater appliance and if something happens to the appliance, you just need to enter the key into a new appliance. And only you have the key. Not Riverbed and not the cloud provider.
  3. Access: Whitewater does something very unusual in the way it handles data that has passed through it into the cloud. It keeps a local copy of the data (encrypted, of course) so that the data can be accessed locally without touching the remote cloud. The result is dramatic improvements in speed and performance when restoring cloud-based backup data. Whitewater also uses the local data store to deduplicate data that’s going out onto the cloud, reducing your cloud costs.
  4. Recovery Time: Since a copy of the most recently backed up data is stored locally within Whitewater, there’s no need to perform most data restores across the cloud. When data does need to be pulled in from across the cloud, it is pulled into Whitewater deduplicated, vastly reducing the time and amount of data that must be moved. The data is reconstituted inside Whitewater and returned to the requesting application in its original form. Apart from the decrease in recovery time, users can’t tell that anything has happened to their data.
  5. Recovery Effort: Administrators don’t need to change the tools that they use to recover data through a Whitewater appliance. They can use the same backup and restore utilities that they use today. The Whitewater appliance will translate between the backup protocol and the cloud protocol and retrieve the backed up data with no changes to procedures and no learning curve.
  6. Provider Lock-In: Whitewater supports two cloud storage APIs today: Amazon S3 and EMC Atmos. You can easily move from one cloud to another simply by changing Whitewater’s destination.

When evaluating cloud-based DR, a question equally important to “how do I get my stuff backed up?” is “how do I get my stuff back after an outage?” This is where Whitewater really shines because of the constant movement and near-instant recovery capabilities of the cloud-via-DR-gateway architecture. How so? The authors allude to it at the end of their article:

Emerging cloud gateway vendors, when enabled by primary storage support and the ability to serve up storage from a virtual appliance, can in effect pre-stage data automatically and make it available to virtual servers in the cloud. Not all cloud gateway solutions can do this, but when they can they will further simplify the recovery process.

Whitewater can do this today. Let’s walk through a hypothetical.

Cloud-data Six months ago you deployed a Whitewater appliance on your network, pointed it to an Amazon S3 bucket, and retargeted your backup software to the appliance. All of your data is securely backed up offsite. Now the Bad Day happens: your phone rings incessantly, bloggers are griping about you, people paid more than you are mobbing your office. Now what? Well, since your data is already in Amazon Web Services, perhaps the AWS cloud can become your temporary data center? With Whitewater Virtual Edition you can start a compute instance that runs a virtualized appliance, import your encryption key, and obtain access to your data. Then you can start some application compute instances, extract your backed up data into live disk volumes, remap your DNS entries, and get back online.

No, it isn’t exactly point-and-click, at least not yet. But with some planning—mostly defining your compute instance types, understanding scale-out requirements, and testing application behavior—you can bring mission critical (read: revenue generating) applications into service in a matter of a few hours. With that out of the way, then, you can begin work on returning to normal.

There…that wasn’t so bad now, was it? Polish your smile—learn more about Riverbed’s cloud-based disaster recovery solutions today.

One Response to “Taneja Group asks, “Is cloud-enabled DR is ready for prime time?” Riverbed says YES!”

  1. Awesome! Cloud storage sounds fantastic.

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