Cellcom Inc., a cellular communications operator in Israel, suffered from too much of a good thing. As it expanded, its infrastructure had become extremely complex, with tangled interdependencies between its business services, business protection requirements and applications, said Arie Dery, IT infrastructure department manager at Cellcom.
So last October, Cellcom deployed RecoverGuard, a disaster recovery management (DRM) tool from Continuity Software, to collect data on configuration gaps in the company's storage, servers and databases before problems began to rear their ugly head. The software is now configured to read Cellcom's infrastructure continuously and detect issues every day.
Continuity Software introduced its latest RecoverGuard product to fill what it perceived as a gap in business continuity monitoring practices. RecoverGuard 2.0 configuration monitoring software integrates with an IT shop's infrastructure, scanning storage, databases, servers and replication configurations to locate infrastructure vulnerabilities and preempt them before they undermine business operations.
Another Continuity Software customer, Partner Communications Company Ltd., uses RecoverGuard to protect data replicated to remote data centers for backup.
Before RecoverGuard, the Israeli mobile communications operator, conducted semi-annual DR audits, which were time-consuming and expensive, said Shlomi Penner, a storage system architect and manager at Partner Communications.
"While we were able to identify areas of exposure and remedy, what was to say that tomorrow a new vulnerability would not develop?" Penner said. "RecoverGuard has helped us to identify opportunities for optimization, which has led to considerable operational and capital expenditure savings."
Identifying risks, creating opportunities
According to Gil Hecht, the founder and CEO of the New York-based Continuity Software, it's not a question of whether a company's infrastructure suffers from vulnerabilities but where those vulnerabilities lie. "In 100% of cases, there are issues -- critical issues -- that need to be resolved but would not be found without the software," said Hecht.
The RecoverGuard database can identify 1,600 possible issues. It detects problems such as database files that are not replicated to remote locations, causing corruption in disaster recovery scenarios, as well as file systems that are synchronized to a remote site, but where the file is not usable at the remote site. And version 2.0's Configuration Wizard support storage, servers and applications, autodiscovery, autovalidation and autodetection.
RecoverGuard version 2.0 also identifies infrastructure optimization opportunities, such as consolidating multiple terabytes of storage no longer in use. The software supports all server platforms except the mainframe, and every database other than cache (a medical database). The software also supports VMware Inc. software, so virtual machines are scanned as well. To boot, the new dashboard has an interactive easy-to-use GUI and can be prioritized by application.
As far as pricing, Continuity Software offers a 48-hour assessment with RecoverGuard to test up to 30 servers in a disaster recovery environment at a cost of $15,000. Licensing cost is $2,000 per year for each protected server.
Filling a gap
RecoverGuard 2.0 has garnered lots of positive feedback as well. According to Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group, RecoverGuard v 2.0 is unique compared with other disaster recovery software offerings. "There are some other storage resource management or backup tools that supply replication support for either array- or host-based replication, but no one provides the same depth and breadth of coverage," he said.
"For complex environments, with many different means of replication, Continuity Software provides great value by linking business services to underlying data protection environments," Laliberte said. "The reality is, all that complexity creates problems. And with all the add-ons, moves, and changes that occur, things are sure to break. The key is to be able to identify and fix those issues when they occur, not at an annual DR test or worse -- in an actual disaster."
Jon William Toigo, the CEO and managing principal of Toigo Partners International LLC, an independent consultancy and information technology research firm, wrote a sunny review of RecoverGuard, and Richard Jones, VP and service director for Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group , said the software fills an important gap in what should be built into systems by hardware vendors.
"Storage, systems and applications vendors need to start incorporating capabilities for business continuity into their products such that [these products] will automatically update the recovery site when a change at the production site is made or give warnings until such changes are made, such as warnings to purchase and provision additional storage at the recovery site," Jones said. "Such a tool can be useful for audit purposes for mature organizations. RecoverGuard is an external, after-the-fact tool that is about the best approach businesses have today."
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