data centers

How recovery Tools Can Help Mitigate Disasters at Data Centers

By: Raritan International

Business continuity is a necessary paradigm for most organizations to consider while investing in a data center. Today, operations run 24*7 and any downtime can shave off a lot of potential revenue, result in missed opportunities, and considerably damage the company’s brand. It is one of the widest reaching problems that a business can face, affecting clients, consumers, employees and managers. Theoretically, the estimated costs of an outage to Amazon based on 2012’s net sales, could be as high as $66,240 per minute. Indeed, disaster can strike at any time. It is how you respond to the situation that makes all the difference between catastrophe or managed recovery.

There are many types of “disasters” that can occur in a data center. These can range from an all-encompassing failure to the loss of certain critical IT services. It can happen at any time due to human error, system breakdowns or natural disasters. Time is of essence when these disasters strike, with the need for quick troubleshooting, diagnosis and repair. Modern Keyboard Video Mouse-over-Internet Protocol (KVM-over-IP) systems with centralized management and remote power control are key tools to help data center managers and Information Technology (IT) administrators recover when disaster strikes.

Since disasters by their very nature are unpredictable, the probability is that they will occur during working hours! Hence, a reliable remote access method is critical to a quick response. KVM-over-IP switches and serial console switches can provide the anytime/anywhere, secure, remote access required for recovery personnel to respond immediately when disaster strikes. KVM-over-IP switches provide Basic Input /Output System (BIOS)-level server access, including support for remote virtual media. This expanded level of remote access may be required in a disaster when servers need to be rebooted, software re-installed, servers re-imaged or BIOS options changed.

It is possible in a disaster that a server or other equipment will completely shut down. In this case, remote power control can be the only way to re-start the equipment without going into the data center. Intelligent rack based power distribution units (PDU) can be connected to the KVM equipment or directly to the Local Area Network (LAN) in order to remotely restart or power-cycle servers and other devices.

Serial console switches provide access to equipment managed by serial ports. This includes networking equipment as well as headless servers running UNIX or LINUX. The serial console switch provides remote console level access to troubleshoot and re-configure equipment. In addition, remote power control is an option.

In a disaster, the corporate network can be affected either partially or completely. Many serial console switches and KVM-over-IP switches have a modem option so that they can be used over a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) connection. While a PSTN modem may seem very old fashioned, it can be very useful in a disaster situation if the corporate network is not in full operation. Another alternative is to have a separate backup or management network that connects to the KVM-over-IP and serial console switches.

Since a disaster can be the result of human error, it is useful to which servers have been recently changed. Modern KVM and access systems produce a comprehensive log of server accesses, so that the recovery staff understands which equipment has been changed, when it was changed and even why it has been changed.

Disasters are unpredictable and the managers responding to the emergency must have the ability to quickly access virtually any equipment in the data center. Centralized access management systems like Raritan’s Command Center Secure Gateway (CC-SG) can be used to provide centralized remote access to thousands of servers (physical and virtual), networking equipment as well as the ability to do remote power control. The result is that recovery workers can quickly access virtually any server or serially controlled device using a single IP address.

And finally, for larger disasters, responders may need to go into the data center to fully recover. In this case, the KVM-over-IP and serial console switches provide a local port capability such that managers can access equipment while in the data center. Through a technology called “tiering” or “cascading”, the local ports of multiple switches can be consolidated such that from a single console hundreds of servers can be accessed.

As more businesses increase their reliance on technology for their operations, the chances of outages or downtime will increase in 2017. Disaster avoidance and recovery planning is essential for businesses in keeping their data safe and secure – be it on premise, in the cloud or colocation. The disaster recovery strategy will help organizations to ensure efficient and effective resumption of business functions in the event of an unplanned emergency. A well-rehearsed plan, frequent review and rigorous testing will help the organization to keep up with business processes and system changes.

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