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8/29/2011
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SunGard Specialized Cloud Recovers Critical VMs

Launching at VMworld 2011, Recover2Cloud provides an automated way to back up key production systems. But it's not quite instant failover.

SunGard is launching a specialized cloud for recovering failed systems Monday at the opening of VMworld in Las Vegas.

The vendor operates physical and virtual machine recovery sites where companies place copies of their mission critical systems and lease time on duplicate servers. It operates 35 geographically dispersed data centers in North America where it offers general purpose managed services, and also infrastructure as a recovery service.

If you're running a VMware virtual machine for production in your enterprise data center, you can create a duplicate in the SunGard Recover2Cloud service. In the event of failure of the primary system, the recovery system will automatically be activated and start filling from the remote location.

SunGard is not at this time projecting Recover2Cloud as a recovery service for workloads running in Amazon, Rackspace, Terremark, or other public clouds, even though the Amazon EC2 service outage in Virginia and the power loss in its Dublin data center, both in April, have stirred interest in such a service.

Nor is SunGard attempting to be a cross-hypervisor recovery service. Some companies are using Citrix Systems and Microsoft's Hyper-V, but Indu Kodukula, CTO, said in an interview, "The default is VMware."

Recover2Cloud is designed to provide an automated way for enterprises to create low-cost backup systems as virtual machines stored in external data centers. Data flowing through an application on premises is replicated to a SunGard recovery system.

The Recovery2Cloud Server Replication service is not quite an instant failover system, however, due to network latencies between the customer and the SunGard data center. Rather, SunGard terms it an asynchronous service capable of recovering a failed system in less time than an IT staff might be able to do through recovery to its own secondary data center. Full recovery of data integrity, with as much data recovered as possible, means a production system would be back in many cases in an hour, said Kodukula.

The first goal of Recovery2Cloud is to get your system up and running again in minutes, calling up the duplicate virtual machine through commands activated by the customer's recovery service and feeding the correct data into it, Kodukula said.

In any outage, knowing the state of transactions and validating good data, while discarding bad, is a much more time consuming process than activating a replacement virtual machine. The later task at Recover2Cloud should take about an hour, he said, but SunGard's SLA will initially give it four hours to recover, cleanse, and validate data.

Customers of Recover2Cloud will have the option of running their applications in one of SunGard's managed services data centers, which now also offer infrastructure as a service for use in recoveries. If the customer is already using a SunGard center, SunGard recovery specialists will supervise the failover from primary to backup systems for the customer. Such a service can be employed for either physical or virtual machines.

SunGard is offering a second service in the event of a failure offering extensive data loss. Recover2Cloud for Vaulting restores data from an online vault to a recovered application in 24 hours or less. Kodukula said SunGard experience indicates data recoveries can be executed faster than the stated SLA, but the firm is leaving itself elbow room to deliver on its contracts as it enters a cloud service phase.

An additional service leveraging storage virtualization will become available later this year, he said.

Recovery as a specialized cloud was projected as an upcoming cloud service in InformationWeek's examination of the prospects for specialized clouds June 27. Many financial services companies are among SunGard's existing 9,000 customers.

Network Computing has published an in-depth report on deduplication and disaster recovery. Download the report here (registration required).

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