A Strategic Approach to Disaster Recovery and Data Lifecycle Management Pays Off
A Strategic Approach to Disaster Recovery and Data LifecycleManagement Pays OffTranscript of a sponsored podcast on how compliances services provider SAI Global successfullyimplemented a disaster recovery project with tools from VMware.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: VMwareDana Gardner: Hi. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BrieﬁngsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on how business standards and compliance services provider SAI Global has beneﬁted from a strategic view of IT enabled disaster recovery (DR). Well see how SAI Global has brought advanced backup and DR best practices into play for its users and customers. We will further learn how this has notonly provided business continuity assurance, but it has also provided beneﬁcial data lifecyclemanagement and virtualization efﬁciency improvement.Here to share more detail on how standardizing DR has helped improve many aspects of SAIGlobal’s business reliability, please join me now in welcoming Mark Iveli, IT System Engineerat SAI Global, based in Sydney, Australia. Welcome to BrieﬁngsDirect, Mark.Mark Iveli: Hi, Dana. Thanks for having me.Gardner: My pleasure. Let’s start from a high level. What do you think is different about DR,the requirements for doing good DR now versus ﬁve years ago?Iveli: At SAI Global we had a number of business units that all had different strategies for their DR and different timings and mechanisms to report on it. Through the use of VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) in the DR project, weve been able to centralize all of the DR processes, provide consistent reporting, and be able to schedule these business units to do all of their testing in parallel with each other. So we can make a DR session, so to speak, within the business and just run through the process for them and give them their reports at the end of it.Gardner: It sounds like a lot of other aspects of IT. Things had been done differently withinsilos, and at some point, it became much more efﬁcient, in a managed capacity, to do this with astrategic perspective, a systems-of-record perspective. Does that make sense?
Complete reviewIveli: Absolutely. The initiative for DR started about 18 months ago with our board, and it was a directive to improve the way we had been doing things. That meant a complete review of our processes and documentation. When we started to get into DR, we handled it from an IT point of view and it was very much like an iceberg. We looked at thetechnology and said, "This is what we need from a technology point of view." As we started toget further into the journey, we realized that there was so much more that we were overlooking.We were working with the businesses to go through what they had, what they didn’t have, whatwe needed from them to make sure that we could deliver what they needed. Then we started torealize it was a bigger project.The ﬁrst 12 months of this journey so far has been all around cleaning up, getting ourdocumentation up to spec, making sure that every business unit understood and was able toarticulate their environments well. Then, we brought all that together so that we could say what’sthe technology that’s going to encapsulate all of these processes and documentation to deliverwhat the business needs, which is our recovery point objective (RPO) and for our recovery timeobjective (RTO).Gardner: All right. Before we delve a bit deeper into what DR is doing for you and maybe teaseout a bit more about this whole greater than the sum of the parts, tell us about SAI Global andyour responsibilities and speciﬁcally how you got involved with this particular project.Iveli: Im a systems engineer with SAI Global, and Ive been with the company for three years.When the DR project started to gather some momentum, I asked to be a signiﬁcant part of theproject. I got the nod and was seconded to the DR project team because of my knowledge ofVMware.That’s how I got into the DR project. Ive spent a lot of time now working with SRM and Ivebecome a lot less operational. Ive had a chance to be in front of the business and do a little bit ofthe BA work of IT to work with these business units and say, "This is what your application isdoing and this is what we can see it’s doing through the use of Application Discovery Manager.Is this what you guys know your applications to do?"Weve worked through those rough edges to bring together their documentation. They would putit together, we would review it, we would all then sit around and agree on it, and put theinformation into the DR plans.From the documentation side of things, Ive worked with the project manager and our DRmanager to say, "This is how we need to line up our script. This is how we need to create our
protection grid. And this is how the inventory mappings are all going to work from a technicalpoint in SRM."Gardner: Just brieﬂy, what is SAI Global about? Are you in the business of helping peoplemanage their standards and provide compliance services?Umbrella companyIveli: SAI Global is an umbrella company. We have three to four main areas of interest. The ﬁrstone, which were probably most well-known for, is our Five Ticks brand, and that’s the ASISstandards. The publication, the collection, the customization to your business is all done throughour publishing section of the business.That then ﬂows into an assurance side of the business, which goes out and does auditing,training, and certiﬁcation against the standards that we sell.We continue to buy new companies, and part of the acquisition trail that we have been on hasbeen to buy some compliance businesses. That’s where we provide governance risk andcompliance services through the use of Board Manager, GRC Manager, Cintellate, and in theU.S., Integrity 360.Finally, last year, we acquired a company that deals solely in property settlement, and theyrequite a signiﬁcant section of the business that deals a lot with banks and convincing ﬁrms inhandling property settlements.So were a little bit diverse. All three of those business sections have their own IT requirements.Gardner: I suppose, like many businesses, your brand is super important. The trust associatedwith your performance is something you will take seriously. So DR, backup and recovery,business continuity, are top-line issues for you.Is there anything about what youve been doing as a company that you think makes DRspeciﬁcally important for you, or is this just generally something you think all businesses reallyneed to master?Iveli: From SAI Global’s point of view, because of what we do, especially around the propertysettlement and interactions with the banks, DR is critical for us.Our publishing business feels that their website needs to be available ﬁve nines. When weshowed them what DR is capable of doing, they really jumped on board and supported it. Theyput DR as high importance for them.As far as businesses go, everyone needs to be planning for this. I read an article recently wheresomething like 85 percent of businesses in the Asia-Paciﬁc region don’t have a proper DRstrategy in place. With the events that have happened here in Australia recently with the ﬂoods,
and when you look at the New Zealand earthquakes and that sort of stuff, you wonder where thebusinesses are putting DR and how much importance theyve got on it. It’s probably only goingto take a signiﬁcant event before they change their minds.Gardner: I was really intrigued, Mark, when you said what DR is capable of doing. Do you feelthat there is a misperception, perhaps an under-appreciation of what DR is? What is this largerwhole that youre alluding to that you had to inform others in your organization about?Process in placeIveli: The larger whole was just that these business units had a process in place, but it was anolder process and a lot of the process was designed around a physical environment.With SAI Global being almost 100 percent virtual, moving them into a virtual space opened theirminds up to what was possible. So when we can sit down with the business units and say, "Weregoing to do this DR test," they ask if it will impact production. No, it won’t. How is ithappening? "Well, we are going to do this, this, and this in the background. And you will actuallyhave access to your application the way it is today, it’s just going to be isolated and fenced off."They say, "This is what weve been waiting for." We can actually do this sort of stuff. Theyrestarting to see and ask, "Can we use this to test the next version of the applications and can wetest this to kind of map out our upgrade path?"Were starting to move now into a slightly different world, but it has been the catalyst of DRthat’s enabled them to start thinking in these new ways, which they weren’t able to do before.Gardner: So being able to completely switch over and recover with very little interruption interms of the testing, with very little downtime or loss, the opportunity then is to say, "What elsecan we do with this capability?"I have heard about people using it for migrations and for other opportunities to literally movetheir entire infrastructure, their virtual assets. Is that the sort of thing youre getting at -- that thisis larger than DR? It’s really about being able to control, manage, and move your assets?Iveli: Absolutely. With this new process, weve taken the approach of baby steps, and were justlooking to get some operational maturity into the environment ﬁrst, before we start to push theboundaries and do things like disaster avoidance.Having the ability to just bring these environments across in a state that’s identical to productionis eye-opening for them. Where the business wants to take it is the next challenge, and that’sprobably how do we take our DR plan to version 2.0.We need to start to work with the likes of VMware and ask what our options are now. We havethis in place, people are liking it, but they want to take it into a more highly available solution.
What do we do next? Use vCloud Director? Do we need to get our sites in an active/activepairing?However, whatever the next technology step is for us, that’s where the business are now startingto think ahead. That’s nice from an alignment point of view.Gardner: Now, you mentioned that your organization is almost 100 percent virtualized. It’s myunderstanding from a lot of users as well that being highly virtualized provides an advantage andbeneﬁt when heading to DR activities. Those DR maturation approaches put you in a position tofurther leverage virtualization. Is there sort of a virtuous adoption pattern, when you combinemodern DR with widespread virtualization?Outside the boxIveli: Because all of a sudden, your machines are just a ﬁle on a data store somewhere, now youcan move these things around. As the physical technologies continue to advance -- the speed ofour networks, the speed of the storage environments, metro clustering, long haul replication --these technologies are allowing businesses to think outside of the box and look at ways in whichthey can provide faster recovery, higher availability, more elastic environments.Youre not pinned down to just one data center in Sydney. You could have a data center inSydney and a data center in New Zealand, for instance, and we can keep both of those sitesonline and in sync. That’s couple of years down the track for our business, but that’s a possibilitysomehow through the use of more virtualization technology.Gardner: Perhaps another way to look at it too would be that your investments to get to a highlevel of virtualization, server virtualization, pays back dividends, when you move to advancedDR, is that fair?Iveli: Yes, that’s a fair comment, a fair way to sum it up.Gardner: Tell us a little bit about your use of VMware vCenter SRM. What version are youusing now and have you been progressing along rapidly with that?Iveli: Weve installed SRM 4.1 and our installation was handled by an outsource company,VCPro. They were engaged with us to do the installation and help us get the design right from atechnical point of view.Trying to make it a daily operational activity is where the biggest challenge is, because theimplementation was done in a project methodology. Handing it across to the operational teams tomake it a daily operation, or a daily task, is where were seeing some challenges. A new contractadmin has come on board, and they don’t quite understand the environment. So they put amachine in the wrong spot, or some use of storage is provisioned and it’s not being replicatedand it is designed for a P1 recovery ranking.
That’s what my role is now -- keeping the SRM environment tuned and in line with what thebusiness needs. That’s where were at with SRM.Gardner: Certainly, the constant reliability and availability of all your assets, regardless ofexternal circumstances, is the number one metric, but are there any other metrics during yourjourney, as you called it, that you can point to that indicate whether you have done this right, orwhat it pays back -- reliability certainly, but what else is there in terms of a measurement ofsuccess?Iveli: Thats an interesting question. When I put this to the DR team yesterday, the only realmeasurements that we have has been the RPO and the RTO. As long as all the data that weneeded was being replicated inside the 15-minute timeframe, that was one of our measurements.Timely mannerThrough the use of the HP Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) monitoring, weve been able to seeand ensure that our DR tunnels are being replicated correctly and within a timely manner.The other one was the RTO, which we have been able to measure by the report from SRMshowing us the time it has taken to present the failover these machines. So were very conﬁdentthat we can meet both our RPO and RTO through the use of these metrics.Gardner: Any advice for those listening in who are beginning their journey? For those folks thatare recognizing the risks and seeing these larger beneﬁts, these more strategic beneﬁts, howwould you encourage them to begin their journey, what advice might you offer?Iveli: The advice would be to get hired guns in. With DR, youre not going to be able to doeverything yourself. So spend a little bit more money and make sure that you get someconsultants in like VCPro. Without these guys, we probably would have struggled a little bit justmaking sure that our design was right. These guys ensured that we had best practice in ourdesigns.Before you get into DR, do your homework. Make sure that your production environment ispristine. Clean it up. Make sure that you don’t have anything in there that’s wasting yourresources.Come around with a strong business case for DR. Make sure that youve got everybody on boardand you have the support of the business.When you get into DR, make sure that you secure dedicated resources for it. Dont just rely onpeople coming in and out of the project. Make sure that you can lead people to the resource andyou make sure that they are fully engaged in the design aspects and the implementation aspects.
And as you progress with DR, incorporate it as early as you can into your everyday IT operation.Were seeing that, because we held it back from our operations, just handing it over and havingthem manage the hardware and the ESX and the logical layers, the environment, they werestruggling just to get their head around it and what was what, where should this go, where shouldthat go.And once it’s in place, celebrate. It can be a long haul. It can be quite a trying time. So when youﬁnally get it done, make sure that you celebrate it.Gardner: And perhaps a higher degree of peace of mind that goes with that.Iveli: Well, youll ﬁnd out when you get through it, how much easier this is making your life,how much better you can sleep at night.Gardner: Well, great. Weve been talking about business standards and compliance provider,SAI Global, and how they have beneﬁted from a strategic view of IT-enabled DR processes andmethods.Id like to thank our guest, Mark Iveli. He is IT System Engineer at SAI Global. I appreciate yourtime, and it was very interesting. Thank you, Mark.Iveli: Thank you.Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks also to ouraudience for listening, and come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: VMwareTranscript of a sponsored podcast on how compliances services provider SAI Global successfullyimplemented a disaster recovery project with tools from VMware. Copyright InterarborSolutions, LLC, 2005-2012. All rights reserved.You may also be interested in: • Learn Why Ducati Races Ahead with Private Cloud and a Virtualization Rate approaching 100 Percent • SAP Runs VMware to Provision Virtual Machines to Support Complex Training Courses • Case Study: How SEGA Europe Uses VMware to Standardize Cloud Environment for Globally Distributed Game Development • Germanys Largest Travel Agency Starts a Virtual Journey to Get Branch Ofﬁce IT Under Control • Virtualized Desktops Spur Use of Bring You Own Device in Schools, Allowing Always- On Access to Education Resources • From VMworld, Cosmetics Giant Revlon Harnesses the Power of Private Cloud to Produce Impressive Savings and Cost Avoidance