One of the major benefits of virtualization for enterprises has been that through virtualization disaster recovery (DR) has become much easier and more cost effective to implement. This occurs because virtualization allows the entire environment for a server to be containerized in a VM which is nothing but a file that can easily be copied to a different location and brought up if servers in the main data center fail for some reason.
However when it comes to an SMB realizing these benefits, several factors still stand in the way. The first is that most SMB’s do not have the funds to virtualize their entire operation just to get the benefits of DR. Next is the fact that just virtualizing the servers does not really provide for DR, additional software is still needed to periodically update backup images, update backup data in databases, and most importantly replicate the most recent backup images to an off site location in case the primary site really does suffer a catastrophic event. The combination of these costs, processes, and logistics has kept real DR out of the reach of many SMB’s.
To address these challenges, Quorum has come up with an appliance based solution (the Quorum BC-V) that has several interesting and unique attributes:
- The appliance is in fact a virtual machine host, that can host up to 10 running VM’s
- Physical servers are periodically P2V’ed into images on the appliance
- Existing virtual machine images are backed up up into the appliance
- Physical or virtual images that house transactional data (SQL Servers or Exchange Servers) can have that data continuously backed up into the appliance via integration with the Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service
- One appliance (say at the customer site) can automatically replicate its data to another appliance (say at the site of the VAR that supports the customer)
These unique features lead to some very interesting benefits of the Quorum BC-V Solution:
- True DR is now easy and affordable for an SMB. The process is easy to implement, it stays current with no manual intervention, and is activated with one mouse-click or automatically.
- One DR process works for both physical and virtual servers
- Transactional data from database servers and mail servers is backed up in the same process that handles DR
- True off-site DR is an easy extra step on top of implementing DR within the SMB’s data center
The Quorum BC-V solution is offered exclusively through leading virtualization VARs. Many of these VARs offer BC-V not as a product that the company has to buy and maintain, but as an easy to purchase and implement DR Service. This further reduces the barriers for SMB’s looking to acquire a DR Service in a cost effective and easy to purchase manner.
There are several possible issues with the Quorum BC-V solution:
- Quorum BC-V only supports DR for physical and virtual Windows servers. This should not prove to be a huge issue for most SMB’s due to the strong position of Windows Servers from Microsoft in the SMB market.
- Many physical servers have unique hardware configurations that cannot be replicated in a P2V process – something that the VAR or service provider will have to pay careful attention to when this solution is set up at the customer site.
- There could be possible performance issues if the P2V fails to remove hardware specific drivers such as those for 802.3ad link aggregation, hardware alerting, and drivers for hardware that is no longer present.
VAR’s with substantial SMB customer bases should take a good look at this unique solution as it represents a way to provide a valuable service to that customer base while building a new recurring revenue stream.