Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Daniel Gordon, John Walsh, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Sven Olav Lund

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.


@CloudExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...