"It also has the ability to make disaster recovery more of an IT function rather than a corporate audit-type function," Silverstone says. "If you have the right policies and processes in place, [with virtualization] disaster recovery can become part of automatically deploying any server."
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Virtualization enables companies to create an image of an entire data center that can be quickly activated--in part or in whole--when needed, at a relatively low cost, Silverstone says.
For Teradyne Inc., a North Reading, Mass., supplier of test equipment for electronic systems, virtualization has been an enabler for a much improved DR capability, says Chuck Ciali, CIO.
"We have leveraged virtualization for DR significantly," Ciali says. Using virtualization technology from VMware, Teradyne can seamlessly fail over to redundant blade servers in the case of hardware problems. It can also use the technology to move workloads from its commercial data center to its research and development data center in case of disasters.
"This has taken our recovery time from weeks [or] days under our former tape-based model to hours for critical workloads," and saves $300,000 per year in DR contract services, Ciali says.
Marist College has deployed virtualization, and one of the benefits is avoiding systems unavailability. "We do all we can to avoid any event that would cause users dissatisfaction, loss of access or loss of functionality," Thirsk says. "To do so, we utilize massive virtualization of our processors, our network topology and our storage."
Because Marist IT can now provide a virtual server, virtual network and spin out storage, "our systems assurance activities move along at a very rapid rate," Thirsk says.
"If at any point of testing something goes horribly wrong, we can decide to trash it and start over or continue forward, all without much trouble at all on the system side."
On the whole, server virtualization has made DR a lot easier, Dines says. "Because virtual machines are much more portable than physical machines and they can be easily booted on disparate hardware, a lot of companies are using virtualization as a critical piece of their recovery efforts," she says.
There are lots of offerings in the market that can perform tasks such as automating rapid virtual machine rebooting, replicating virtual machines at the hypervisor layer with heterogeneous storage, and turning backups of physical or virtual machines into bootable virtual machines, Dines says.
"Ultimately, virtualization means companies can get a faster RTO [recovery time objective] for less money," she says.