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VMWare Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Almost all businesses nowadays collect and use digital data. Companies that deal with confidential information, like health records or banking information, need to be especially careful to preserve it since loosing it could mean lawsuits or criminal action. When data loss does happen, and it most likely will eventually happen to a company, a business needs to have a disaster recovery plan. A disaster recovery plan is a documented sequence of steps and actions that an institution takes to recover and restore its data, applications, and other digital information if a disaster has occurred and there has been data loss. Sometimes a disaster is an act of nature, like a hurricane, tornado, or flood, and sometimes humans, like a rouge employee, cause it. No matter the reason, every company should have some procedures in place to recover data. Many businesses also have compliance requirements that mandate such a plan for recovering data from a disaster.

The typical disaster recovery plan usually involves sending and keeping a copy of the data off-site. This type of plan is often expensive, since purchasing and setting up an offsite location just to duplicate the data is costly and takes a lot of time. Also, some smaller companies may even have to manually drive physical media to an offsite location, which adds even more time and money.

VMWare, one of the leading cloud services providers and maker of popular commercial virtualization software, has a service called VMWare vCenter Site Recovery Manager that harnesses the power of the cloud for data recovery. VMWare already has many huge and offsite datacenters with efficient setups and many security features. VMWare vCenter Site Recovery Manager automates the replication of virtual machines from the primary customer site to one of VMWare’s offsite data centers. VMWare also works with third-party data storage providers, so if you don’t trust VMWare, you can use VMWare vCenter Site Recovery Manager to back up data to another approved company. The software also automates most of the data restore and disaster recovery process by doing things like re-IPing virtual machines. VMWare vCenter also allows for companies to add their own custom scripts if the built-in options aren’t enough.

The offsite servers that VMWare uses to store the data are shared with other companies, so they aren’t dedicated servers. VMWare claims that this isn’t a problem since the servers should be rarely accessed anyways. Also, their servers are regularly tested, whereas many disaster recovery plans are often times not even tested once. If users want to, they can even test out their disaster recovery plan on virtual machines in a safe environment.

The downside of VMWare vCenter Site Recovery Manager is that it is tied into the VMWare ecosystem, so if you want to use it, you need to buy into VMWare vCenter and use it. Another downside is that you are locked in to VMWare’s pricing model. Their standard plan, which is the cheapest, charges $195 per virtual machine. At that price, most businesses will probably be paying thousands of dollars. While the price is high, if your company relies heavily on data, it could still be worth it to invest in the service.


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