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Disaster recovery trends and technologies to watch

Major disaster recovery developments have changed the market yet again, and it's time to get ready for a new year in DR technology, before you end up lagging behind.

In the fast-paced world of DR, technologies that were considered cutting-edge last year are now standard offerings. Major disaster recovery trends are spreading and evolving faster than ever, while vendors and customers alike do their best to keep up.

The ability to fail over into the cloud continues to be adopted at a breakneck speed by companies large and small. There are several changes that may change the way some vendors work. Some vendors are now even including the ability to fail over physical machines into virtual cloud environments. Compliance concerns, such as those brought on by GDPR, will continue into 2019.

Here, I'll discuss some of the major disaster recovery trends and changes you can expect to make an appearance in the market and what that could mean for your purchasing process moving forward.

Automation, virtual DR

Physical to virtual DR is potentially a huge game-changer. One of the more significant disaster recovery trends and developments today, it removes one of the last barriers for failing over to the cloud for old-school, on-premises legacy infrastructure. Admittedly, not every server and every configuration have the required support, but it is a great stride forward and reduces the complexity and cost of failover into virtual and cloud environments.

It goes without saying such a configuration should be frequently and extensively tested before relying on it working in a real-life failover scenario. This development also opens the door to automating the failover in a way that wasn't possible with physical machines before.

DR automation and testing will also continue to increase not only in capability, but also scope. Most DR products provide recovery as logical groups of servers that are crash-consistent. This can be complicated if a server is part of more than one disaster scenario. All these moving parts need to be managed and tested frequently. Scaling and automating DR is going to be not only a desired skill in the workplace, but also a requirement from all potential vendors.

Compliance and cloud-to-cloud

In terms of recent disaster recovery trends, GDPR continues to weigh heavy on administrative minds, and although the hysteria around compliance has calmed down somewhat, the ability to understand and manage the data is becoming a major selling point. Controlling (and managing) where the data ends up is a key component of recent DR offerings. DR products that can enforce GDPR policy will be a massive selling point and ease the burden that GDPR places on the infrastructure administrators.

The biggest change, however, comes in the form of cloud-to-cloud failover. It won't have escaped anybody's notice that there has been a huge move to cloud.

It is all well simply managing the data, but being able to selectively recall that data on demand is key to frictionless GDPR conformity. Understanding the data you have and its requirements can potentially help reduce costs.

The biggest change, however, comes in the form of cloud-to-cloud failover. It won't have escaped anybody's notice that there has been a huge move to cloud. While there are many vendors that provide multi-cloud failover, there are factors that need to be considered, including ingress/egress cost and other management costs.

Support for cloud-to-cloud DR will, however, be limited to the larger players for obvious reasons -- namely, cloud support requires significant resources and development time.

DR processes and infrastructure

Personally, I see recovery processes continuing to double up as a means to perform cloud migrations with minimal downtime, which is always a big selling point.

Automated failover testing is becoming ever more popular. Automation is key to not only test DR failovers, but also real-world failovers. In the heat of the moment, an administrator following procedures is not only slower than a computer doing it, but also more likely to make mistakes when highly complex procedures are involved.

First, picking a good orchestration engine is critical. The orchestration engine is the backbone of effectively implementing the DR process.

As remote working continues to increase, large companies -- that shall remain nameless -- in the physical DR market are having to rework their offerings to stay relevant. Expect to see many changes in this space. They will be changing their products and services and partnering with existing providers to provide new lines of service or specialties, i.e., non-Intel-based infrastructure for which they can differentiate their offerings.

Due to the breakneck speed with which these disaster recovery trends are changing, if there was one tip I could impart, it would be that, before committing to any particular vendor, speak with them. Do your research. Ask about their roadmap, as the goalposts and features are moving so fast that it can be a huge differentiator between a good provider and a bad provider for your current and potential needs.

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