The new face of disaster recovery

Wafting toward WAFS

Fulcrum Pharma's Hamlett uses Availl Software's WAFS and CDP software to protect the Windows file servers in his environment.

Last December, when the Buncefield oil refinery fire destroyed his company's new offices, employees were able to access their files and applications without disruption.

As IT staff watched the fire on TV, servers in Hemel Hempstead failed over to servers in the United States and London.

"By having a full local copy of all files in the U.S. and the U.K. -- files kept coherent and instantly updated -- we kept doing business almost without incident," Hamlett says.

Availl's software is installed at each site a customer wishes to recover data from. As users make changes to data, they are synchronized, compressed and transferred over the WAN to a Windows server and storage in the data center. Because of Availl's acceleration and optimization techniques, access to files appears as if it was over the local network rather than the WAN. In addition to providing disaster recovery benefits, the software assures that Hamlett's remote offices are always backed up.

WAFS software can vary in cost from US$1,000 per server to several thousand dollars per appliance. CDP varies too -- from US$995 per server to more than US$100,000 an appliance.

"If we had relied on only tape backup from the previous nights, we would have lost files and data - certainly not something I'd want to explain to our clients," Hamlett says. He has been so impressed by WAFS and CDP that he expects to expand its protection to offices in Scotland and France.

Business-continuity appliances

Carl Woody, network engineer for the Dare County School District, chose StorServer's Business Continuity Appliance to protect the data and applications on the file servers in his environment. The StorServer appliance consists of cache memory, disk storage and software tasked with backing up Windows Server 2003 environments.

"The initial problems we had for StorServer were that we had 30-plus servers, each with their own tape drives, each drive with its own tape rotation," Woody says.

"We may have 10 to 15 tapes per tape drive and then a different person changing the tapes for all those servers, which is very time-consuming, and because people weren't always familiar with the technology, the backups weren't consistent and unreliable."

StorServer removes that responsibility from the teachers and centralizes the backups. Woody put in the StorServer appliance a year ago at an expense of about US$40,000.

"Now restorations take about five minutes. Before, we had to find tapes that had successful backups, swap tapes and take 10 to 15 minutes to scan tapes. It took 30 to 45 minutes to locate a file."

In preparation for last year's Hurricane season, Jack Rahner, director of IT operations for human resources outsourcing firm AlphaStaff, deployed MessageOne's OneSwitch appliance and MessageOne's managed e-mail and SQL server backup service to provide application continuity for his customers that use Microsoft Exchange. AlphaStaff has offices in an area ravaged by Hurricane Wilma last year. Before the hurricane hit, Rahner failed over his Windows applications and replicated data from the company's Exchange e-mail servers in Boca Raton to the data center in Atlanta, where the company is headquartered.

"We had OneSwitch ready to go before the hurricanes last July," Rahner says. "We had operational centers in Boca Raton and Atlanta. We can physically transfer people between those sites if there was an issue at one or the other. In support of that, OneSwitch failed over operations to our Atlanta office as we closed down our Florida office.

"By moving our SQL and Exchange server to MessageOne, we were able to continue operations with minimal lag time even though one of our offices was knocked out," he says. Wilma brought down AlphaStaff's Boca Raton office for 12 days.

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