Don’t Wait for an Outage: Plan Now to Protect Your Data

The availability of data is critical to the success of any organization. If your data storage system goes down, your application goes down with it.

While data center disasters are rare, they do happen, and it is imperative for organizations to have in place a business continuity plan that takes into account the varying importance levels of their applications and data.

Think of your data and the storage system it resides on as your application’s foundation. True, not all data is created equally — the consequence of unavailable or lost data can range from the annoyance of missing content on a static webpage to the shutdown of business critical operations (e.g., ability to process an order) — but the impact to the application (and your bottom line) can be significant.

And once a storage system is back online, it takes a lot of work to get the application up and running again, including checking file systems for integrity and ensuring your databases haven’t been corrupted. Beyond the repair work, a storage outage almost always includes significant costs to a business. Orders can’t be processed, manufacturing might be halted, ads aren’t being served and so on.

The responsibility of availability falls onto application owners, which means application owners are responsible for formulating the business continuity plan.

Building on top of a locally resilient system, for example, means a failure in that single location would immediately lead to downtime of your application. Is that acceptable? You must be the judge of what, if any, period of non-productivity (or downtime) is acceptable. Based on that, you need to determine:

  • which workloads need to seamlessly move between locations in the event of an outage;
  • which can sustain a short period of downtime
  • and what data isn’t mission critical, meaning you can “ride out the storm” should the worst happen and your primary (and only) location isn’t available.

Of course, building a resilient environment comes at a cost — of storing additional copies of your data in another location, maintaining standby compute resources to handle disasters and additional in-network bandwidth required to keep the two locations in sync.

The scenarios above are ordered in both highest storage availability and highest estimated total cost, where the first and most expensive solution provides the highest level of infrastructure resiliency, the second allows for a small window of downtime to allow failover, and the final option having no option for failing over in a disaster.

Regardless of which approach is taken, infrastructure decisions should always be planned hand-in-hand with application owners to make sure applications are capable of leveraging the reliability of the infrastructure.

At Rackspace, our experience serving hundreds of thousands of customers and managing data centers across the world has led to the creation of multiple solutions across our technology portfolio designed to support our customers’ business continuity and disaster recovery needs.

One of the more recent additions to that portfolio is Multi-Region Swift, available as part of our Rackspace OpenStack Private Cloud. This solution takes the proven open source object storage system we contributed to the OpenStack project in 2010 and distributes a number of storage regions across more than one geographic location. This results in a highly available distributed storage system that will keep your applications running even if one of your storage systems or locations experiences an outage.

Multi Region Swift
Multi-Region Swift: a logical overview of a Swift cluster deployed in multiple regions for business continuity.

Another benefit of private cloud is that the resources are solely dedicated to your workloads, which prevents outsiders from creating a “noisy neighbor” scenario in your environment. Also, with Rackspace OpenStack Private Cloud, our team of experts work with you to build the appropriate continuity plan. We advise on system design decisions, future growth plans and tune the environment to your specific use cases. This flexibility and customization can lead to gains in both input/output operations per second per dollar and dollar per gigabyte.

The Multi-Region Swift capability within Rackspace OpenStack Private Cloud provides users with an extremely flexible storage foundation. It provides both local and global resiliency with the possibility of multiple replicas of an object stored in separate physical locations.  Storing multiple copies of an object in multiple locations means that should the worst happen to the primary, the secondary location is ready to go and assume the primary operations’ responsibilities.

Rackspace can help you take control of your applications and make them resilient in your data center, ours or in a third party facility.

To find out more about our Multi-Region Swift capability and how Rackspace can help you with business continuity, sign up here to schedule a free strategy session with our cloud experts.

Philip Williams is responsible for the integration of enterprise hardware and open source software defined storage with Rackspace's Openstack Private Cloud products. He joined Rackspace in 2011 after stints at Yahoo! and EMC in storage-related roles. He has designed solutions and infrastructure to support many different industry sectors including Rackspace’s multi-tenant environments, massive scale internet properties and financial institutions. Philip holds a BSc (hons) degree in Computing Science from UMIST, Manchester, England, and now lives with his wife in Austin, Texas.



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