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Disaster recovery readiness monitoring applications

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DR monitoring systems explained

A relatively new category of software products has emerged that can provide actionable performance data that can be synchronized with DR plans. According to Jon Toigo, CEO at Toigo Partners International, there are three different types of disaster recovery monitoring tools. “There are software products that store information about your plan and create the plan documents. Next are tools that set up scenarios to help you fail over from one set of technology to another set, while providing data replication services. And third, there are passive tools that monitor the data protection processes.” We’ll focus on the third type of DR monitoring tools.

As a storage manager, your primary concern is likely data protection, so you’ll want something that monitors all protection-related activities, as described earlier. You may assume that normal due diligence activities would be sufficient and another specialized system wouldn’t be necessary.

“Despite your due diligence and efforts to build a high-availability data replica, you may still not have an exact duplicate of your production environment,” said Kathleen Lucey, FBCI, president of Montague Risk Management, vice president of the Business Continuity Institute’s (BCI) USA Chapter and vice chairperson of the BCI Global Membership Council. “There could conceivably be undetected incompatibilities among some components. If incompatibilities do exist, you may not know about

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them until you switch to the backup site and things don’t work.”

That same kind of attention must be paid to critical IT operational activities such as change management and configuration management. “Are today’s practices in service management and change management necessary to ensure the integrity of DR capabilities and plan documentation?” asked Douglas Weldon, FBCI, an IT executive with a major financial services firm and president of the BCI’s USA Chapter. “The answer is yes, these practices are indeed necessary, but additional tools are needed to fill in the gaps of on-going monitoring.”

“Aside from detecting operating weaknesses, the monitoring product should be able to flag all changes, regardless of size,” said Harvey Betan, MBCI and president of H. Betan Inc., a New York City-based business continuity consultancy. “Being an automated product, it can also inspect the IT environment faster than an individual.”

In an ideal world, data center managers have a single interface that links all monitoring systems and provides a concise, integrated dashboard of all infrastructure performance. Reports on disaster recovery performance metrics would be one of the outputs.

This was first published in November 2011

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