Continuity Software Helps VARs Fix Disaster Recovery

disaster recovery

The biggest problem with disaster recovery is not implementing it, but testing it, said Gil Hecht, founder and CEO of Continuity, which has its headquarters in Boston and R&D in Herzliya, Israel.

When people put in a second data center site for disaster recovery, over time they make changes to the production environment, sometimes even as often as daily, Hecht said. "They also make changes in the disaster recovery environment as well, but they never turn the disaster recovery site on because it will try to take over the production environment," he said. "And if they can't turn it on, they can't test it."

For example, Hecht said that a company with Oracle on a server who wants to do disaster recovery might replicate two volumes of data using a software application like EMC's SRDF. When the customer runs out of space, it may add a new volume. "But maybe he forgot to add the new volume to the disaster recovery environment, or didn't set it correctly," Hecht said. "So now he has only two-thirds the necessary volumes. If data is striped, it won't recover correctly from the disaster recovery site.

To reduce the chances of problems, Continuity developed RecoverGuard, a software that runs on a separate server at the production or disaster recovery site or both. RecoverGuard connects to all servers, storage devices, and databases to build an understanding how data is collected and flows in the company, Hecht said.

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All the related information goes through the software's Gap Detection Engine, which can detect the signatures of more than 1,000 potential problems caused by inconsistencies between the production site and disaster recovery site, he said. It automatically identifies disaster recovery vulnerabilities and gaps before data is lost, and is constantly updated with new gap patterns, he said.

RecoverGuard also finds opportunities for optimizing the connection between the two sites using vendor or industry best practices, he said.

One solution provider that has started working with RecoverGuard is Fusion Risk Management, a Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based adviser and consultant firm focused on risk management. Fusion also helped Continuity Software develop its channel program, and is also helping other solution providers understand the application, said CEO David Nolan.

The software maps a disaster recovery implementation so users know what data doesn't need to be replicated, what should be but isn't replicated, and how to fix problems, Nolan said.

"Because of change management and implementation, there can be issues with replication," he said. "This software shows gaps and problems in the replication environment. It monitors the data replication, and can tell you there is a gap, and where there is wasted capacity. If the purpose of replication is the ability to recover data to the point of failure, this software tells you where the replication might fail. It shows you where the points of failure could be."

Customers say they test their disaster recovery systems, but they don't pull the plug at the production site, Nolan said. "Continuity Software gives you the ability to identify weaknesses and points of failure, and lets you do something about them," he said.

Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider, said RecoverGuard could be a very useful tool to fill the gap between production and disaster recovery sites.

"It looks like a good way to monitor disaster recovery and make sure it works," Teter said. "Other vendors like [Boston-based] Onaro do replication, but not to that kind of detail."

Solution providers can work with RecoverGuard to help customers monitor their disaster recovery environments for gaps and then proactively fix those gaps, Hecht said.

"Solution provider can say to the customer, you should buy this product to monitor your environment, and we'll come in quarterly to make sure everything works correctly," he said. "If they do that, they can see any problems, and then sell additional services to solve the problems."

The company currently has five solution providers in the U.S., but is in the recruitment mode. Hecht said it is looking for integrators, managed service providers, and regional solution providers with a focus on risk management or storage or data center-to-data center integration.

The software, which is already available, lists for about $2,000 per server annually. "Server" in this case means up to four CPU sockets in a box. For servers with more than four CPU sockets, the cost is $2,000 for each group of four.