Disaster recovery

Disaster Recovery preparedness gap for containerized applications

In the pre-container world, backup and recovery solutions were generally implemented at the virtual machine (VM) level. That works for applications that run on traditional on-premises systems. But when applications are containerized and managed remotely with an orchestrator like Kubernetes, this system can fall apart. That means effective DR plans must be designed for containerized architectures and natively understand the way Kubernetes functions. 

According to Gartner, by next year more than 75% of businesses globally will be running containerized application in production – up from less than 30% from June last year. If containerized applications are part of an enterprise IT service, the reality is, it should be protected and managed in the same way as everything else. 

There is a DR preparedness gap for containerized applications in the organizations who are using it. As technology continues to evolve, this is an area that CIOs need to consider more. 

Containing the challenges for Disaster Recovery (DR) 

Despite the benefits reaped from the evolution of Kubernetes to date, containerized applications still have their limitations. Ironically, the infrastructure that is making app development, productivity, and deployment easier is leading to greater challenges in terms of DR preparedness. 

Containerized architecture aims to minimize the risk of downtime by having the smallest number of independent services hosted on each unique container. This increases flexibility and accessibility when needed, while also reducing the chance of failure when faced with turmoil. However, given that Kubernetes workloads can have hundreds of containers within a singular enterprise IT strategy, this can easily overwhelm IT teams. The biggest challenge this complexity poses is backup and recovery, so Kubernetes should always be included as a central topic in a DR plan. 

Disasters come in many forms – from human error and cyber-attacks to natural disasters. And while the digitization helps minimize the risk of data loss, every application needs to have a steel-plated DR strategy to ensure efficient recovery when the time comes. Having such a vast number of containers to backup and workloads to restore in the event of a disaster can be extremely intricate and cannot be overlooked when preparing a DR plan. 

Closing the preparedness gap 

Containerized applications should not be backed up using a traditional one-size-fits-all approach. There are other essential characteristics of an effective DR plan for containerized environments: speed, 

Disaster Recovery (DR) is protecting infrastructure or applications in a specific geography to reduce business impact when faced with unforeseen failures. The aim is to enable seamless and automated recovery to ensure your applications operate with minimal downtime and restore functionality within minutes. Technologies such as containers and Kubernetes present new opportunities in application 

development but still need a DR plan to safeguard against rising numbers of cyber-threats. 

repeatability, and portability. Ensuring your DR plan unites these characteristics before a disaster afflicts will save businesses time, money, avoid availability issues – and most importantly, ensure your IT teams are well prepared to combat threats of data loss. 

The benefits of Kubernetes and containerized applications are not simply storing application data, but also holds other mission-critical business data. With so many components within containerized environments (e.g., nodes, pods, containers), creating seamless backup can become almost impossible. To avoid having to manually develop extensive DR documentation and backup scripts, organizations can invest in automated solutions. 

A DR plan is only as effective as its ability to be repeated. Businesses should regularly run drills to simulate disaster situations. This will enable your teams, albeit IT or not, to assess your preparation, learn how to integrate any changes you made since the previous drill and regularly review and update the plan. Businesses need to be clear about where the backups are to be stored and where they will be restored. The more your organization conducts DR testing in containerized environments, the more confident and prepared your staff will be in handling a catastrophe. 

While Kubernetes makes it far easier to build applications using existing services and provides a much simpler migration process, it often creates more convolution when it comes to DR preparedness. DR plans should allow you to easily integrate changes – so when a disaster hits, recovery is seamless. Start with a simple plan and add on as environments become more complicated. To minimize the preparedness gap, carefully document all changes you make to the plan and why they were made and employ flexible automation to make updating plugins simple. 

Plan for success 

Kubernetes DR is not an easy job. The only right way to back up your containerized workloads is to take application-aware, cloud-native backups that don’t impede migrating to a new infrastructure. The first step is identifying your specific requirements and developing a DR strategy fit for containerized applications. By doing this, businesses can extend Kubernetes’ most highly regarded feature — data mobility. 

As the old adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. With IT infrastructure taking on a new, more prominent role than ever before and systems becoming more complicated, a DR plan for containers must focus on high availability, speed and accessibility. While a DR preparedness plan is not something you’ll need to update daily, it is of utmost importance when disaster does strike. 

The article has been written by Sandeep Bhambure, Vice President and Managing Director, India & SAARC, Veeam Software 

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