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Reliability: the heart of storage

A data centre is designed to give employees access to applications and data needed to do their jobs. The perfect data centre is like the perfect power plant – so reliable that people don’t think about it. But, says WARREN OLIVIER, in order to achieve this, you need to start with a strong foundation.

The modern data centre exists for only one purpose, says Veeam Software Regional Manager for Southern Africa Warren Olivier: To give business users the applications and data they need to do their jobs. “The perfect data centre, like the perfect power plant, is so reliable that most people never have to think about its existence,” says Olivier. “However difficult and complex things might be in the background, what a user experiences should be simple, fast, and smooth.

To achieve this, says Olivier, “you need to build a strong foundation. Start with the right hypervisor, the right storage platform and the right backup solution to deliver strong availability, and you are well on your way to the robust environment that today’s always-on business demands.

Veeam, VMware and HP will hosted a joint event, Data Protection for a Virtualised World, in Johannesburg last month. The event showed how organisations of all sizes can achieve a 3-2-1 strategy for data protection that involves keeping three copies of all data, on two different types of media, with one offsite.

Reliability is under-rated,” says VMware Southern Africa’s Senior Systems Engineering Manager, Ian Jansen van Rensburg. “You don’t want to run your Tier 1 business critical apps on a platform that isn’t 100% secure — which is why you need to choose a hypervisor that can support high volumes of traffic, and work seamlessly with storage and availability solutions to give the robust environment you need.

In fact, says Jansen van Rensburg, “storage is the heart of your environment — if it’s performing poorly or is not available, nothing else works. The storage infrastructure choices you make are a key component not only of a smooth-running virtual environment, but also of your backup and availability performance. Anybody can do a backup, but it takes an expert to do a restore.

Adam Day of HP says the modern data centre requires the ability to restore lost data or applications within minutes. “Data protection is a key aspect of the always-on business that doesn’t always get the attention it needs,” he says. “The goal is to be able to make frequent storage-based snapshot backups, and then guarantee that you can restore from those backups. This is only achievable with the right storage and backup solutions.

“The modern data centre should offer a recovery time and point objective (RTPO) of no more than 15 minutes,” adds Day. “Availability solutions designed specifically for virtualised environments, coupled with the right kind of storage, can take system snapshots as often as needed, without ever compromising live system performance. By reducing your backup footprint in this way, efficiency and reliability are increased.

“When all the crucial layers — hypervisor, storage, and availability — are in place and working smoothly together, the data centre can provide the robust, seamless environment businesses need to get business done,” says Olivier.

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