I recently sat down with Chris Evans, Principal Consultant here at Arcserve, to talk about High Availability. Chris has been with Arcserve for over 18 years, and with more than 25 years of IT experience from banking and finance, mainframe & distributed systems, security, international corporations and public health, Chris has a depth and breadth of extensive knowledge of the IT industry.

So, Chris, what are the key benefits of high availability (HA) for full system, application and data protection?

Thanks Gina. The key benefits of high availability (HA) that I see are – in no particular order, but not limited to:

  • Eliminate the system downtime that affects sales, service, operations and productivity.
  • Improve the overall system and data protection and improving the time for system, application and/or data recovery.
  • Being able to use virtualisation with confidence – to the point of being able to mix and match your virtualisation platforms.
  • Definitely improve business continuity and disaster recovery protection.
  • Reduce the overall risk of system down time and data loss.
  • Successful high availability should provide no application downtime and no application data loss.
  • Being able to quickly test the disaster recovery (DR) plan, so important in determining the continuation of business in times of disaster and the TIME required for that recovery.

How can high availability protect from disaster, planned or otherwise?

HA protects systems, applications and data. It provides continuous replication, server monitoring and automated failover to help minimize system downtime and data loss that will affect sales, service, operations, productivity and reputation.

Not only is it a powerful business tool as an on-premise solution, it is optimal for MSP’s who want to capture recurring revenue from hosting and Cloud business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) managed services. The combination of remote management, application-aware deployment and a unified management console makes it easy for you to deploy, manage and maintain helping maximize your productivity and profitability.

Add in Full System High Availability, cloud integration such as with Amazon’s EC2 and, Assured Recovery for DR testing along with encryption and virtualization support, HA provides a full data protection

What do you see as the biggest obstacle for customers wanting high availability as a feature. What would you tell them that would make them change their minds?

HA typically uses a combination of replication and server heartbeat technology to keep IT systems at a remote location synchronized with applications in the primary data center. In the past, this meant dedicated high-bandwidth networks between two physical locations and redundant copies of server, storage, and networking hardware, with specialized applications and operating software. The cost of this redundancy has always put HA out of reach for smaller organizations.

Today, low-cost, high-bandwidth networks are ubiquitous, to the point of being a business necessity. In addition, a wide variety of service providers make it simple to spin up virtual servers on demand at very low cost. These infrastructure advances now mean that HA technology is available to more organizations at a much more modest price tag

The dramatic drop in HA infrastructure costs has put the business continuity plans of many organizations at an inflection point. Uncoordinated, often overlapping backup solutions abound in the data center. If you have relied on backup and recovery for business continuity you probably find that these ‘siloed’ solutions are a maintenance nightmare, sapping productivity. More importantly, dramatically complicating disaster recovery.

Modern HA solutions offer a universal approach to business continuity that lowers the cost of data protection, simplifies disaster recovery, and eliminates data loss and downtime.

And why would you say that “High Availability is not a Luxury?”

HA technology is no longer the complex, esoteric approach to business continuity that it once was. Large corporations have been using high availability techniques to protect their most critical business applications for years.

The technology has been tried and tested and is widely accepted as a standard disaster avoidance tool.

It is simple, repeatable, measureable, and automated. Technologies such as Continuous Data Protection, replication and automated failover and failback are critical.

The maturing of HA products has brought the price within reach of small and mid-market companies. This, combined with lowered infrastructure costs — broadband, server virtualization, multiple service providers — and dramatically improved usability, are making HA a very real business continuity alternative for organizations of all sizes.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us about high availability? Any closing comments?

Any business continuity approach that can’t make the claim of no downtime and no data loss is not high availability.

A wide variety of solutions are available that promise to improve disaster recovery, but if they don’t eliminate your exposure, they’re not HA.

Thanks Gina!

Thank you, Chris! This is going to be very helpful for anyone out there looking into high availability and it’s key features and functions for continuous data protection in their data environment.

For more on this High Availability, you can view this webcast by Chris Evans himself!