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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.
Published in Disaster Recovery
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.
Published in Disaster Recovery
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.
Published in Disaster Recovery
It was an exciting time for FalconStor at this year’s VMware Partner Exchange (PEX), as the show coincided with the release of the next edition of our RecoverTrac disaster recovery automation tool, which won Best of VMworld 2012 in the Business Continuity and Data Protection category last fall. Our booth at PEX was manned by a mix of the FalconStor sales and marketing teams headed up by our Channel Chief and VP of Sales and Marketing Gary Quinn. During the show, FalconStor was busy talking with partners about our data protection, storage virtualization, and deduplication technologies and how they interact with one of the key VMware topics: the virtualized data center. Many of the partners that stopped by our booth were very interested in how they could use our solutions (especially RecoverTrac technology) to provide disaster recovery services to their customer base.

The overwhelming response from visitors to our booth who stayed for a product demonstration was how quick and easy it is to test a recovery scenario and how much RecoverTrac technology knows about the production and disaster recovery environments. Partners also liked that the RecoverTrac tool can protect a physical machine and then recover it to a VMware environment. Many attendees asked how much a RecoverTrac license would cost them and were pleasantly surprised to find out that it is a standard feature, included with the purchase of FalconStor Continuous Data Protector and FalconStor Network Storage Server.

In addition to meeting new partners, FalconStor also had the opportunity to connect with VMware to discuss more ways we can work together. Stay tuned as FalconStor continues to gain momentum and redefine data protection, again!
Published in VMware
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 21:01

The Customer’s Always Right

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.
Published in Disaster Recovery
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.
Published in Disaster Recovery
Thursday, 01 November 2012 18:49

The Human Spirit: The Ultimate Backup Solution

I am a huge fan of the human spirit. Specifically, I am repeatedly impressed by the kindness and generosity of our neighbors. In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, all our employees and friends are working together to recover from a devastating storm.  We are all measuring our inconveniences in degrees. The luckiest have power, hot water, and heat. The worst off have lost their homes. Most of us are somewhere in between.

As I write this entry, there is an extension cord reaching across my driveway from my neighbor’s generator. My brother is driving up from Florida in his truck full of generators and cans of fuel. There are numerous friends, colleagues, and business partners sitting in the FalconStor training room using our network connections and power.

In times like these, you learn to appreciate the joy of a single 100-watt bulb and its amazing ability to illuminate an entire kitchen. You are reminded what a luxury it is to have hot and cold running water 24/7. Mostly I think we are reminded of how easily our daily lives can be interrupted. While New Yorkers have an unbelievable spirit and generosity that is difficult to match, it is important to remember how much easier it is to brave the storm if we are prepared.

Hurricane Sandy hit us with 50- to 90-mile-an-hour winds. I cannot imagine what we would be going through if she had been a Category 3 hurricane.  We are currently told that we should have our power back in 10 to 15 days. What if it were a month or more? I think it is time that we all spent a little bit more of our free cycles thinking about preparing for times like these.

With two hurricanes in two years, Long Island may have a lot more to deal with in the near future. My father always said, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best” – to FalconStor, as a data protection company, this should be second nature. We strive to anticipate such possible interruptions and be prepared for them. I can only say that we would all be well served if we conducted this planning not only in our business lives but in our daily lives well.

I am thankful that our employees and their families are all safe. I am thankful that we are fortunate enough to be able to provide assistance to our community and neighbors. Disaster preparation has made this all possible. I hope we can all use Hurricane Sandy as a teaching moment so that we can be better prepared for such events in the future.

Published in FalconStor
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 18:45

Automated DR Just Got Better

We all know the challenges of implementing a solid disaster recovery (DR) plan. There are so many immediate priorities in a busy data center. The primary focus must be on meeting the ever-increasing demand for 24/7 IT services that have an immediate value to the business. DR has to be in place, but rarely is there time to test it. And the potential disruption to operations is unthinkable. The traditional DR process is a manual, time-intensive affair that no one has time for.

The answer to these challenges – and to the critical need to protect not only business data but also the IT services that make that data useful – is automation. But not all automated DR solutions are equal. FalconStor’s RecoverTrac™ DR automation tool pioneered this category as the cornerstone of our service-oriented data protection strategy, and we have just made it better.

Today we announced the latest version of RecoverTrac technology, which now offers greater flexibility, faster recovery, expanded integration with mixed physical and virtual infrastructures, and even easier non-disrupting rehearsal capability.

These are some of the key enhancements, based on real customer needs, that we now deliver in RecoverTrac 2.5:
  • Lightning-fast recovery: Performance improvements and the ability to recover multiple machines simultaneously return organizations to full productivity in minutes.
  • Any-to-any recovery: Integration with VMware and Hyper-V and support for hardware templates enables failover and failback between any combination of physical and virtual servers and between dissimilar hardware.
  • Greater VMware support: VMware vSphere 5 and VMware cluster support enables load balancing and high-availability configurations.
  • Automated push-button DR rehearsal: Allows busy IT managers to test and refine recovery processes on a regular basis without disrupting business operations.

If you missed today’s RecoverTrac webinar, you can view the recorded presentation. Take a look and let us know what you think on Twitter, #RecoverTrac.
Published in Disaster Recovery
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 18:44

New Video - Don’t Wait. Automate.

FalconStor has released a new video about the benefits of incorporating disaster recovery automation into DR plans. The video shows how DR automation is able to simplify complex recovery processes, ensuring a smooth recovery of operations after data loss or corruption, equipment failure, or even a complete site outage.

In the event of disaster, businesses must perform dozens, if not hundreds, of steps to bring back their systems and continue with their essential business practices. A misstep in the recovery process caused by human error, a process flaw, a routing issue, etc., can delay recovery time objectives (RTO) by hours and cost exorbitant amounts in lost revenue.
Published in Disaster Recovery
Wednesday, 28 March 2012 20:14

Backup is Old School

As Wikipedia notes, full backups had been the traditional approach to protecting large data sets, but the problem is that, in today’s high data growth and demanding 24x7 environment, full or even incremental backups take time that is just not available. Multi-tasking or multi-user systems will constantly be trying to send writes to data that is being backed up.

The traditional approach to this problem is to temporarily disable write access to data during the backup, by quiescing the application or
by having the operating system enforce exclusive read access. This works when regular downtime is acceptable, but 24/7 systems cannot bear service stoppages. To avoid downtime, high-availability systems may instead perform the backup on a snapshot—a read-only copy of the data set frozen at a point in time—and allow applications to continue writing to their data. In some systems once the initial snapshot is taken of a data set, subsequent snapshots copy the changed data only and use a system of pointers to reference the initial snapshot.

Published in Data Backup
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