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At Data Center World this year, I was given the honor of speaking on a subject FalconStor knows very well, data center resilience and disaster recovery. As I expected, there was a great turnout. Many of the questions and comments that I received during my session are those that I get everywhere I speak: “Are there any solutions that can help me protect my mixed environment in an automated fashion?” or “I know I need to test my disaster recovery plan, but it’s too difficult.” What this tells me is that FalconStor has the ability to solve a problem that is very common in the data center.

Now my time at Data Center World was not all work. I had the chance to roam the floors and really get to see all that goes into managing and running a data center. I was amazed at companies like No Limit Software, which provide data center management solutions that allow users to find their various servers and other assets in what could be a vast data center. There were vendors like Power Assure that focus on energy management solutions for managed service providers (MSP).

We had visitors to FalconStor’s booth as well. Many MSPs and infrastructure-as-a-service providers took notice of our message focused on data migration. The attendees we talked to liked how FalconStor solutions enable them to offer the ability to migrate their customers’ data into their data center with a minimal amount of effort.

Data Center World is a good conference for FalconStor, because it gives us access to the builders and facilitators of data centers, not just storage and backup administrators. And it was a great opportunity to talk about the wide range of capabilities of FalconStor’s data protection solutions – including storage virtualization, data migration, deduplication and WAN optimization, to name just a few – that help optimize the data center for efficient, continuous operation.
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It is 2013 Business Continuity Awareness Week. From March 18 to 22 the Business Continuity Institute will raise awareness about the importance of business continuity. Disasters can strike at anytime, whether they stem from natural disasters, human errors or malicious attacks. And with tornado season descending upon us, we want to offer some quick tips to prepare your data center.

Tornado season typically runs from March through May, but tornadoes can occur at anytime. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), about 1,200 tornadoes strike the United States each year. Below are a few simple tips to keep in mind to prepare your data center this tornado season:
  1. Identify critical servers and resources that need to be available in the event that a tornado wipes out power to the data center.
  2. Create a disaster recovery response team and ensure that every member knows his/her responsibility for validating the availability of key data center resources.
  3. Create a scenario response list that outlines the steps to recovery based on the situation, whether it’s power a outage or a server failure.
  4. Verify and document configurations, including networking, backup, storage and accounts to access all equipment.
  5. Alert any third-party vendors that may have copies of company data (e.g. offsite tape storage vendors, cloud providers) because that data may need to be sent to the DR site.
  6. Have a backup plan that provides some automation. Automation is key because manual steps completed by staff often fall victim to human error.
These steps will help you prepare your data center for any type of disaster whether it be for the upcoming tornado season or any type of natural storm that may threaten your location. The best point to remember is not to wait until a storm is threatening your company, but to be proactive and have a tested plan in place to handle any issue whether it is natural or caused by simple human error.
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As we near the end of the first quarter of 2013, we see a few strong trends taking hold in the way small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) approach storage and data recovery (DR). Here, we detail the top eight:

1. Storage arrays and solid-state disk (SSD) are growing in popularity. We’re seeing more hybrid combinations of SSD and conventional disks as users embrace the dramatic performance benefits SSD delivers for backup appliances.
2. End users are adopting storage virtualization. The motivation for this trend has everything to do with efficiency. SMBs are seeking better ways to maximize their existing storage assets and repurpose them for backup and disaster recovery needs.
3. Fibre Channel (FC) drives are beginning to disappear. With the broad adoption of 6 Gbps SAS drives, expensive FC drives are being replaced with SAS and SATA disks. And 4Gb and 8Gb FC is being replaced by 16Gb FC, skipping over 10Gb altogether.
4. Storage area networks (SAN) are going the way of FC. The use of SANs is on the downturn, as more and more companies switch to integrated modular building blocks for the data center. Storage is becoming another part of the stack with access via a converged network (although whether that network will eventually rely on FCoE or IP is still anyone’s guess).
5. The definition of an SMB is getting murkier. Should we define an SMB by its number of employees or the amount of data it stores? Today, a business might have only a few staffers but hundreds of terabytes or many petabytes of data in one or more locations. SMB technologies need to reflect the variety of definitions for this category of company.
6. SMBs want customized solutions. SMB IT leaders want more choices based on their needs, not on unyielding product specs. They’re demanding intelligent solutions that offer the most sought-after data protection and recovery capabilities – in a package that makes sense for their businesses.
7. Automated recovery is becoming a priority. It used to be only the enterprise organization seeking technology that could fully automate their recovery needs, but that is no longer the case. SMBs are exploring storage solutions that allow them to failover their workloads as part of a disaster recovery scenario.
8. Flexibility is king (and vendor lock-in is history). SMBs are turning to solution providers that can work with the heterogeneous storage, data protection and system recovery technologies in their data centers and can accommodate multiple connectivity protocols.

Storage and data protection vendors and solution providers should keep these trends in mind as they develop solutions and services for the SMB market.
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Our recent disaster recovery survey with IDG Research shows that optimizing DR practices is at the forefront of customers’ minds. A whopping 83% of organizations say they are shifting gears on backup and recovery practices. Companies know that time is money and they can’t afford to lose continuous access to their data for any period of time– or worse yet, to permanently lose that valuable data. The pressure is on for IT professionals to keep vital data available and that means moving their disaster recovery systems into the future of automation and replication

You can see from the above infographic based on our DR survey results that the importance of disaster recovery automation is not lost on IT professionals. The risk and implications of data loss are driving a move from inadequate recovery methods to fully automated disaster recovery technologies that can provide complete data availability and business continuity. 

This sentiment seems to be echoed in our recent customer success stories. IT managers and executives are investing in our reliable, automated technology to ensure their data is protected and always accessible. I’ve hand-picked three of my favorite success stories below that illustrate why and how companies are making the move to more sophisticated data protection and disaster recovery systems.

Republic Steel
What I really like about this case study is that even though the customer chose a FalconStor solution to solve an immediate challenge, they are able to use this same technology to achieve more advanced disaster recovery objectives in the future. Republic Steel needed to migrate to a new SAN to handle its growing data needs. They chose FalconStor NSS not only for its ability to smoothly and quickly perform the migration, but because it had the functionality and flexibility to allow them to prepare for future DR endeavors. FalconStor NSS includes FalconStor RecoverTrac technology, a powerful disaster recovery automation tool, which will make ensuring business continuity a cinch.

Greater London Authority
GLA realized that with increasing amounts of data, storage was getting tight and its tape backup system was becoming inadequate for disaster recovery. Knowing that its storage problem was only going to get worse with upcoming high-profile events such as the mayoral election, the Royal Jubilee celebrations, and the 2012 Olympic Games, Greater London Authority determined it was about time to upgrade its systems. It chose FalconStor NSS to virtualize its storage environment and replicate data offsite. RecoverTrac technology within FalconStor NSS automates DR processes and cuts recovery time of the entire IT environment down from three days to four hours. Better yet, GLA saved nearly £90,000 compared to other vendors’ systems and IT managers expect a full ROI within four years.

Korea Yakult
Last but not least, one of our newest case studies features a health-food manufacturer that likes to “stay ahead of the curve” when it comes to IT technology. Korea Yaklut’s original DR system left much to be desired with a data center and backup center located in the same building. Feeling exposed to the risk of fire, leaks, or worse, IT managers decided to implement FalconStor CDP for its reliable disk-based remote backup capabilities. Now that Korea Yakult has achieved its goal of remote backup, it plans to automate disaster recovery using the RecoverTrac technology available in their FalconStor CDP solution.

Want to see more case studies? Take a look at our customer success stories page and browse by our product or industry menus.
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Earlier this year, IDG Research Services and FalconStor Software conducted an InfoWorld QuickPulse survey on disaster recovery trends. Among the 189 IT managers and executives who participated, the survey found that 42 percent are still not adequately armed with modern disaster recovery solutions, even though they experienced at least one instance of data loss in the past year.

The majority of those surveyed continue to rely on ineffective manual processes and tape backup systems, which is not surprising given how entrenched legacy backup systems are after more than 20 years of deployment. The good news, however, is that most respondents are aware of the need for change. There is general agreement that business must move toward more efficient, reliable automated disaster recovery systems.

With the increased adoption of virtualization and the extraordinary amount of time required for tape backup, companies are turning to disk-based solutions and moving tape to the role of longer term storage. Hurricane Sandy, which devastated IT operations in the Northeast United States this fall, was a major wake-up call. The superstorm demonstrated the urgent requirement for DR plans that can restore both data and IT services quickly to curb the cost of downtime even in the most extreme circumstances.

Data protection and disaster recovery technology is an insurance policy for today’s data centers, which must operate 24/7 to meet the high demand on IT services. To date, due to reduced budgets and the conventional perception of disaster recovery as a high-maintenance process that nobody has enough time for, IT has not quickly adopted new solutions. With greater education by forward-looking industry experts, IT managers and executives are becoming more aware of the need for data protection modernization. Change is on the horizon, and I predict we’ll see more success stories than cautionary tales as more evolved DR systems are implemented in 2013.

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