Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Greg Schulz, Dana Gardner, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Jackson, SmartBear Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Cloud Security, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

The Facts About Cloud High Availability and Disaster Recovery

Understanding the facts about HA and DR in the cloud can help you make informed decisions

Enterprises are moving more and more applications to the cloud. Gartner predicts that the bulk of new IT spending by 2016 will be for cloud computing platforms and applications and that nearly half of large enterprises will have cloud deployments by the end of 2017.1

The far-reaching impact of cloud computing is summarized in a recent McKinsey report on disruptive technologies: "Cloud technology has the potential to improve productivity across $3 trillion in global enterprise IT spending, as well as enabling the creation of new online products and services for billions of consumers and millions of businesses alike."2

For many organizations, moving applications that can tolerate brief periods of downtime to the cloud is a straightforward decision with clear benefits. However, concerns about how to provide high availability and disaster protection in the cloud may make this decision more difficult for business-critical applications such as SQL, SAP, and Exchange. Understanding the facts about HA and DR in the cloud can help you make informed decisions about moving applications to the cloud, while ensuring the important business operations that depend on them are protected from downtime and data loss.

Fact #1: You need high availability protection in a cloud.
Do not assume that your cloud environment provides high availability protection, unless you have specifically configured it for HA. In fact, according to a recent study: "The average unavailability of cloud services is 10 hours per year or more, while the average availability is estimated to be 99.9% far less than the expected availability of business critical applications."3 That is the equivalent of more than a day of downtime. In fact, in 2014, Microsoft Windows Azure, Google, and Amazon Web Services all had some measure of service interruptions or downtime ranging from 4 minutes to several hours.4

For business critical applications, the redundancy that you can get with some cloud solutions, such as Windows Azure, is not enough. When you consider the cost of a minute of downtime for applications, such as SQL Server, Oracle, and SAP that may run many of your key business processes, it becomes clear that you need true high availability and disaster recovery protection. You need to ensure that end users have immediate access to data and applications in the event of a local failure, a regional disaster or anything in between.

However, the traditional way of providing high availability protection is to build a cluster using two identical servers - a primary server and a standby server -  with shared (typically SAN) storage. If the primary server fails, the application operation is moved to the standby server, which has immediate access to the same storage. The problem is that SANs are not only expensive to buy, manage, and maintain, they are simply not an option in public cloud offerings. There are, however, high availability solutions that can be used in a cloud that do not require a SAN.

Fact #2: You can build a cluster in a cloud.
Even though you cannot have a SAN in a cloud, you can build a cluster for high availability protection. In a Windows cloud, you simply add SANLess cluster software to your Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC). The SANLess software uses real time, block level replication to keep local storage in two geographic regions of the cloud synchronized. If there is an outage, the application operation is automatically moved to the remote instance, which has immediate access to current data. The synchronized storage looks to the WSFC like a traditional shared storage so there is no added complexity or specialized skills needed to build or manage a SANLess cluster. In fact, a SANLess cluster is easy to manage and has the added benefit of eliminating the single point of failure risk of a SAN. SANLess clusters also provide complete configuration flexibility, allowing you to replicate between physical, virtual, cloud, and hybrid cloud environment as well as between SAN and SANLess clusters.

Fact #3: You can have geographically separated nodes for DR in a cloud.
While providing high availability within the cloud will protect you from normal hardware failures and other unexpected outages within an availability zone (Amazon) or fault domain (Azure), you still need to protect against regional disasters. The easiest solution is to configure a multisite (geographically separated) cluster.

One effective method is to build a SANLess cluster within a cloud and extend it for disaster recovery by adding another node(s) in an alternate data center or a different geographic region within the cloud. Unlike traditional clusters that require you to have identical hardware and software in every node, a SANLess cluster allows you to mix physical, cloud and hybrid cloud configurations. The benefits of a DR configuration are clear. For example, simply adding a third, geographically separated node to your SANLess cluster in a Windows Azure cloud can give you a recovery point objective (RPO) of near zero data loss and a recovery time objective (RTO) of just about one minute.

Fact #4: You can create a cluster that mixes cloud and on-premises nodes.
You can use your on-premises data center as your primary location with a failover cluster to provide high availability protection and use the cloud as your hot standby DR site. This is a very cost-effective alternative to building out your own DR site, or renting rack space in a business continuity facility. In this case, the on-premises servers can be your choice of traditional SAN-based clusters, SANLess clusters, or even single servers not currently participating in a cluster.

The objective of having a "hot" standby DR site is to have standby servers up and running as quickly as possible in the DR site with access to a copy of the most recent application data. In the event of a disaster, recovery is automatic and immediate. A multisite cluster is an effective way to implement a hot standby DR site. In this case, the SANLess date. In the event of a forecasted disaster, such as a storm or a flood, applications can be moved to the cloud before potential disaster strikes. In the event of an unexpected disaster, applications can be recovered manually or in some cases automatically, depending upon the quorum configuration. This mix of cloud and on-premises nodes gives you an excellent RTO and RPO with minimal investment in infrastructure.

Fact #5: HA and DR in a cloud can be easy and highly cost-effective.
If you choose a SANLess software that provides an intuitive configuration interface, you can create a standard WSFC in a cloud in minutes without specialized skills. A SANLess cluster can help you realize significant cost savings in several ways. First, in a Microsoft SQL Server environment a SANLess cluster can give you high availability with SQL Server Standard Edition software licenses without requiring you to upgrade to costly SQL Server Enterprise Edition.

Second, you can realize hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings with a SANLess by eliminating the total cost of ownership (TCO) associated with a SAN. The savings in TCO include the SAN hardware acquisition costs; the power, cooling, and data center floor space costs; and the ongoing labor cost of specialized SAN administration.

If you are thinking about moving your important applications to the cloud, you need to consider how you will protect those applications from downtime and data loss. While traditional SAN-based clusters are not possible in these environments, SANLess clusters can provide an easy, cost-efficient alternative. These clusters not only provide high availability protection, but also enable significantly greater configuration flexibility and potentially dramatic savings in both licensing costs and SAN TCO.

Notes

1"Gartner Says Cloud Computing Will Become the Bulk of New IT Spend by 2016."

2 Manyika, James and Michael Chui, et al, "Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy," McKinsey Global Institute (May 2013) 

3Whittaker, Josh, "Amazon Web Services Suffers Outage, Takes Out Vine, Instagram, Others with it," ZDNet, (August 26, 2013)

4Mackay, Martin, "Downtime Report: Top Ten Outages in 2013," Business2Community.com, (December 2013)

More Stories By Jerry Melnick

Jerry Melnick ([email protected]) is responsible for defining corporate strategy and operations at SIOS Technology Corp. (www.us.sios.com), maker of SIOS SAN and #SANLess cluster software (www.clustersyourway.com). He more than 25 years of experience in the enterprise and high availability software industries. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Beloit College with graduate work in Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Boston University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-ti...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it ...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
ReadyTalk has expanded the capabilities of the FoxDen collaboration platform announced late last year to include FoxDen Connect, an in-room video collaboration experience that launches with a single touch. With FoxDen Connect, users can now not only engage in HD video conferencing between iOS and Android mobile devices or Chrome browsers, but also set up in-person meeting rooms for video interactions. A host’s mobile device automatically recognizes the presence of a meeting room via beacon tech...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
On Dice.com, the number of job postings asking for skill in Amazon Web Services increased 76 percent between June 2015 and June 2016. Salesforce.com saw its own skill mentions increase 37 percent, while DevOps and Cloud rose 35 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Even as they expand their presence in the cloud, companies are also looking for tech professionals who can manage projects, crunch data, and figure out how to make systems run more autonomously. Mentions of ‘data science’ as a skill ...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...