Remember the old days (circa 2006) when doing disaster recovery involved shipping tapes to an off-site storage facility and provisioning emergency hardware at a disaster recovery facility? Well, fast forward to 2010 when virtually unlimited hardware and disk storage are cheap and plentiful. Making real-time backups to the cloud (with the right software) is not only doable but almost a no-brainer. But once your backup is in the cloud, the next logical step would be to launch a virtual instance of the server that you backed up. But that’s like, Star Trek futuristic stuff, right?
Well no more. CloudRepica has a Software as a Service offering that does just that. Their enterprise-grade replication software is capable of creating real-time disk images of any server. Then they combine that with the unlimited disk resources and phenomenal reliability of the cloud to create a real-time disk backup and recovery service. This offering is packaged and delivered in a Software as a Service model where you pay only a monthly fee. There are no upfront costs, no licenses, no hardware, no media, no consulting labor and no facilities costs.
So here’s how it works: CloudReplica installs their replication software on one of your Microsoft servers. This isn’t any run-of-the-mill software either. It’s an industrial-strength, lightweight, flight-level replication software that’s been in use by large enterprises for 16/17 years. Technically, it uses a non-blocking filter/driver which listens for changes at the byte-level, which means only the portions of the files that change are replicated and there are never any locks because of the replication. The changed bytes are compressed, encrypted and transmitted to one of their cloud hosting providers, such as Amazon or Teramark, where the identical disk image is maintained. Features within their replication software insure that you can always bring your system back to a good known restore point.
Sound good? Well, it gets better. Because once your system images exist on disk in the cloud, CloudReplica can boot up a virtual machine from them. So for your most mission-critical systems you can effectively have hot-standby servers which you can failover to in an emergency. And once the emergency has been handled, you can fail back to your original equipment using the image at the cloud facility instead of re-imaging and re-installing your apps, drivers, security patches, etc. by hand and hoping you got everything.
CloudReplica will support any and all applications running under Windows 2003 to 2008, including MS Exchange, MS Dyanmics, MS SQL Server, PeopleSoft, SAP, JD Edwards, etc. They certainly have more experience with say MS Exchange than PeopleSoft, but they will work with you to test your DR plan and make sure that your servers can be started in the cloud regardless of the specific application.
CloudReplica offers a tierd pricing structure so you can pay for the level of service and responsiveness your applications require. Overall the pricing is much lower than what you’d expect from a traditional hot-site disaster recovery provider. So much so that your organization may consider disaster recovery for servers that you’ve never considered before because of the cost.
I've written about security for enterprise applications in the cloud. CloudReplica gets around many of my concerns by using Teramark’s hosting facilities which not only provides fortress-style hosting facilities and the latest and greatest virtualization and hardware, but they do let auditors to come into their facilities to do their audits. This allows CloudReplica to provide support for certification requirements including as SAS70 Type II Certification and AES 256.
So if you’re considering disaster recovery, or if you have applications that you’ve never considered DR before because of the cost, you owe it to yourself and your company to check out CloudReplica. And if you’ve used CloudReplica, please sound off in the comments and let the community know how you like their services.
written by hecatom, December 02, 2010