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Category Archives: Cloud Migration

Backup, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery – are they the same??

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Recently after talking with clients we have realised that these terms all appear to mean the same thing to some of the business market out there and this is a dangerous assumption. Typically people only understand the differences after an incident and when it’s too late. Therefore we thought it may be useful to summarise what each is and what it means:

Backup –this typically happens once per day and overnight so therefore it is technically possible to lose around 23 hours’ worth of data. In addition a backup simply backs up data and restore may involve building a new server and then restoring the data to this server which if from tape could mean 24-48 hours before the server is back up and running as was. Therefore in this case the Recovery Point objective (RPO) is 23 hours and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is 48 hours. With tape this is always assuming each backup is successful and that you have a suitable tape drive to read from.

Business Continuity – This is essentially how your business (as a whole) will recover from an incident. This incident may not affect IT although most incidents do. It maybe related to the scenario that the office is inaccessible due to a gas leak and therefore how do your staff work from another location or it could be a gas explosion within the building which destroys the IT infrastructure. BC is about the capability of the organisation to continue its business following a disruptive incident. BC is the big plan of which IT Disaster Recovery is a subset.

IT Disaster Recovery – is how you plan to recover from a disaster and this isn’t simply restore from backup as let’s not forget you might not have any media to restore from, you might not have an internet link, you may not have servers or tape drives! DR is about how you recover from the worst possible disaster and as quickly as possible. In the business world the only way to guarantee your IT infrastructure to be always available is to host it outside your business in a datacentre (with redundancy / replication) or to host internally but replicate to a remote datacentre using real-time replication, therefore in the event of a disaster your RPO is less than one minute and your RTO is also just minutes. With auto fail-over and the correct replication software this is easily achievable.

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Welcome to Summer!

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So it seems we are approaching the time of year when things warm up which is great news if you’re not at work or maybe work in state of the art offices with aircon (that works) however it’s not necessarily  good news for servers, network kit and the like in areas without dedicated air-conditioning.

Typically once we hit real summer there is a rise in server and network failures as this kit is still in the small room or cupboard that it is all year round but with an added 10°C or 15°C to work in. The kit still produces the same heat itself but the heat isn’t dispelled as well as it is in the cooler months. Often this means that a router or some other network kit fails first as often this is situated above the servers and of course heat rises. Without am ambient temperature being maintained then due to any additional heat, the servers have to work harder, spinning the cooling fans more to try and combat the heat being produced by the disks and the CPU’s. It’s a vicious circle until either the room cools or a component fails unfortunately

Remember in the summer months to keep an eye on temperatures in these areas and allow extra ventilation / aircon if you can.

  • An average server generates 1360btu/hour which is about the same as a small radiator.
  • It is recommended that server rooms maintain a temperature of between 18°C and 24°C.
  • Typically the server CPU’s will run at around 45°C however anything past 60°C for long periods can be dangerous and result in failures.
  • Disks are more likely to fail the older they are and as such temperature changes may contribute to these disks failing sooner.
  • Humidity is just as important to IT kit as temperature.

 

The obvious solution is to look at hosting your servers externally – why not get in touch with Cloud53 to discuss? Apart from taking the worry away it should also reduce your on-going costs!

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If moving to the Cloud consider…

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Cost – There should be virtually no upfront costs and payments should be made on an ongoing monthly basis. This allows costs to be predictable and so budgets can be managed much easier. The cost of cloud should be less than the alternative of staying in house (including hardware, licensing, staff, power, backup, footprint etc.)

Flexibility – Ensure that employees can access their applications and data from anywhere, at any time and by any method required e.g. PC, Mac, smartphone, tablet etc. Licensing should allow this.

Resiliency – Moving to cloud should give you much increased resilience in terms of power, network, hardware etc. Be sure to check the availability figures quoted by the cloud company, remember 99.7% actually means potential downtime of more than 3 working days per year! Also to note your business is much more reliant on its connection to the internet, without this you cannot connect to cloud so maybe worth factoring in a backup line solution.

Scalability – A genuine cloud computing platform allows organisations to provision resources in real time, for example you should be able to scale your computing resources (processor, memory, disk space) both up and down quickly and easily.

Security – You need to be aware of where your data is stored and could be stored. It maybe that your data is not stored in the UK by default or it might be that it is stored in the UK but replication and failovers copy your data to another country. This isn’t necessarily an issue but depending on the country there are different laws for the security of your data and ownership. Ideally your data should never leave the UK.

Data Protection – The cloud solution should not breach Data Protection laws especially given fines of up to £500k are now possible.

Customer Lock-in – Ensure that you can get your data back at any time whether in contract or not and ideally without large penalty payments, an easy exit is essential! Your data should always be owned solely by you!

Cloud53 takes all these points into consideration with our cloud hosted services and would be pleased to discuss these with you

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End of 2003 Server = Start of a cloud??

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Windows server 2003 has been arguably the most successful Windows server platform ever released, being quite radical in its day, however its day was certainly some time ago. 2003 server was released on April 24th 2003 when Andre Agassi was the Tennis world no 1, Room 5 were at the top of the charts and the Nokia’s 1100 was the no 1 selling Mobile phone. Even iTunes had not been released.

We have certainly come a long way and many of you still have the trusty 2003 server running but with support coming to an end in July 2015 what do you do? Keep running with fingers crossed? Upgrade to 2012? Or is it the opportunity to shift your infrastructure to the Cloud?

A recent survey showed that 61% of businesses have at least one Windows 2003 server running and that only 8% intend to keep them, the rest favouring upgrade or a move to cloud

To stick with 2003 is a risk obviously, but best to be aware of the facts:

  • There will be no Microsoft support in case of issues.
  • There will be no security updates or bug fixes available.
  • Security vulnerabilities will not be addressed.
  • 64bit software will not run on 2003.
  • 37 critical updates were released in 2013 for server 2003.
  • The last service pack for 2003 was released in 2007.
  • Later versions of Server are far superior in terms of features, performance and security.

There isn’t a simple answer as every situation is different, however it is the belief that the majority will find that the related cost savings of going to cloud will be tempting not to mention increased performance, scalability and flexibility that a cloud can provide. Cloud technology used to be something reserved for big companies but now with the advent of cheap and fast broadband together with lower compute costs it is accessible to all.

Cloud53 will be happy to talk this over should you be in this position. Your 2003 servers are not going to blow up on July 14th but you should be ready and aware!

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