Business Recovery, Step 3: Continuous Recovery

Nick Cavalancia

In my last article, I discussed how some applications are so critical, they need to be recovered using timeframes in terms of minutes – even when there’s no hardware available - making virtual disaster recovery (VDR) the second step towards building a solid business recovery program for your clients.

VDR is useful in addressing the need to meet a particularly restrictive recovery time objective (RTO), but what about when a system is so critical that it has an equally restrictive recovery point objective (RPO)?

Step-ThreeFor example, your client’s business relies on the data in a particular database that, if restored to say, 4 hours ago, would cause a material negative impact on business operations. So the RPO and RTO for this particular system is as close to now as is possible.

Is it possible to meet an RTO/RPO combination defined in just minutes of time?

Think Continuously

The third step in the 8-step program is to add Continuous Recovery to the list of services. It’s a rather simple concept, with the devil in the details. Continuous Recovery is, in essence, VDR that is continuously updated by doing a restore of a backup immediately after the backup is performed. The result is a virtual server that is kept up to date with each backup.

VDR helps bring an RTO of minutes into reality. But when you apply an RPO of minutes, it’s the frequent backup data sets of small numbers of changes that help make continuous recovery a reality. With continuous recovery, those changes are applied, via a restore, to the virtual server lying in wait, keeping it always up to date.

What’s required?

Like VDR, you’ll need either the same hosted or on-premise virtual environment. You’ll also need a per-application definition from your customer to determine which systems and applications are candidates for continuous recovery. Those that fit the model of “I need this recovered to two minutes ago, two minutes from now” are prime for the choosing.

You’ll then need to define what the RPOs are for each application, and put in place either a solution that automatically supports continuous recovery, or schedule backups of the live system paired with an immediate restore of that data to the virtual backup of that same server.

What’s the benefit?

First, remember that continuous recovery is a mode of execution of VDR, so all the benefits from VDR are enjoyed with continuous recovery, such as recurring revenue and recovery testing. In addition, continuous recovery provides some additional benefits:

  • Instant Recovery – With a virtual server constantly being updated, the “recovery” is nothing more than a simple switch of IP addresses, or placement onto the production network. 
  • Business Continuity – like you’ve never seen before. Depending on the data set involved and how often changes are made, it’s possible that you may recover a server without any loss of data. Now that’s continuity!

Remember, your recurring revenue streams would be higher than regular backups, due to the virtual environment you’re supporting, as well as the value of the product you’re delivering to your client.

In my next article, I’m going to switch gears and discuss a completely different offering, File Level Versioning, that empowers your customers to recover data not based on RPOs, but based on the frequency of, and number of changes to, their data.

Check back over the coming weeks for more of this great 8-part series!