In-house Disaster Recovery (DR) can be expensive and complex to manage. Cloud-based Disaster Recovery is simpler and sometimes less expensive, but, depending on your cloud platform of choice, puts you at the mercy of your provider’s cloud performance. An emerging third alternative is hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), which provides a simplified architecture for creating and managing in-house DR systems, as well as supporting private cloud DR development.
Hyperconverged Infrastructure merges all of the hardware and software components needed in an IT environment—the CPU, storage and networking hardware, hypervisor for running virtual machines, and the software for file serving, security, and networking—into a single integrated unit. HCI essentially operates like a miniature, self-contained data center or, if you add DR software, a disaster recovery solution.
Hyperconverged Infrastructure is growing in popularity due to its efficiency and manageability benefits. HCI vendors take off-the-shelf commodity components, preconfigure them, and add the necessary software stack. Clusters of HCI equipment can be expanded by simply adding more units, making them much easier to buy, install, and operate than a typical three-tier IT environment. In contrast, traditional three-tier IT infrastructure is a diverse collection of hardware and software products from multiple vendors, with old and new technologies, all needing to be configured and integrated.
As hyperconverged infrastructure grows in popularity, HCI vendors are developing HCI equipment for specific use cases that can best benefit from the unique features of HCI. Many vendors are working with disaster recovery software companies to create integrated HCI DR solutions.
These compact HCI DR products are also gaining more sophisticated features. For example, Nutanix’s HCI platform now supports multi-site disaster recovery and near-zero data loss with a recovery point objective (RPO) of 20 seconds. It also includes DR orchestration with runbooks, to give IT managers the ability to focus on certain applications.
Four major HCI benefits for disaster recovery
Hyperconverged infrastructure offers several specific benefits for backup and disaster recovery. These benefits include:
Gartner defines hyperconverged infrastructure as “a category of scale-out software-integrated infrastructure that applies a modular approach to compute, network and storage on standard hardware, leveraging distributed, horizontal building blocks under unified management.” That means, essentially, that scaling out an HCI environment is like stacking building blocks. To expand memory, storage, and CPU power, just add more HCI blocks. The key advantage of such an infrastructure is simplicity and rapid scalability. A cluster of HCI units can be easily expanded with more devices, and multiple clusters can work together to create a powerful IT environment. And there’s no need to spend hours researching compatible hardware as each new unit is identical to the first.
The combination of commodity hardware and software-defined architecture enables HCI environments to be extremely flexible when needs change. Clusters can be expanded or reduced, networked, or reproportioned to handle different workloads. HCI’s use of virtualization makes for more flexible DR environments as well. With HCI, production environments can be rapidly replicated to virtual machines, which can then be restored to cloud and on-premises systems. A virtual backup environment can be created, updated, and relocated without concern over the underlying hardware. Because software-defined resources are programmable, they can quickly adapt to new demands.
HCI optimizes efficient use of resources, allowing IT departments to get more value from their investments. Traditional DR environments have many moving parts, usually from different vendors, making them more difficult and costly to manage. Using the HCI architecture model streamlines the components and reduces the amount of labor needed for administration and maintenance. An organization can start with a small HCI cluster and gradually expand as needed. That ensures that IT investments get optimal usage.
Virtualization also supports high availability with near zero downtime. One of HCI’s key features is “instant recovery” or “rapid recovery” which involves restoring directly from backup to a virtual machine. This method is faster than the traditional backup and restore approach of copying data from backup and then restoring the production environment. Workloads and data can be replicated across multiple HCI DR clusters, including remote HCI clusters and cloud based HCI clusters. Because HCI devices can be remotely implemented and managed, an organization can administer a network of DR clusters in different geographic locations from a single console. In a disaster, this distributed replication can provide immediate failover to a working replica located far from the disaster zone. Employees and customers in other areas need not suffer any downtime from a fire, flood, or other disaster outside of their area.
Disaster Recovery and HCI don’t need to be complicated
As disaster recovery becomes a bigger concern for all organizations, HCI offers a more agile, scalable, and easily managed DR solution for both large and small enterprises. TierPoint provides its customers with access to HCI products and services in its 40-plus data centers across the U.S., as well as a full menu of disaster recovery services and solutions. Contact us to see how we can help you managed DR in a Hyperconverged Private Cloud.
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