Tsunamis and Virtual Disaster Recovery

This morning’s news was filled with dramatic footage of earthquake and tsunami damage in Samoa, reminding us anew of the destructive power of tsunamis. While the loss of life and property damage is the primary concern in these events, these type of disasters also prompt reflection for those of us in the data center business. The question: is my company and/or data center prepared for something similar?

A good data center site location process will be aware of flood risk. But for facilities that need to be in coastal areas, do tsunamis represent an unanticipated risk? One industry professional recently used a hypothetical tsunami to illustrate potential future approaches to disaster recovery. Greg Ness at Infrastructure 2.0 describes a recent presentation by WMware’s Mark Thiele, who described how to use virtualization and the mobility of virtual machines to allow rapid redeployment of assets when disaster approaches.

Dynamic, Resilient Mesh
“Instead of isolated data centers around the world Thiele illustrated a dynamic and resilient mesh of processing power capable of quickly adjusting to developments as they occur,” Ness writes. “That mesh could avoid disasters by simply shifting its applications and processing cycles from one location to another in real time. It could also shift for other reasons, including localized cost increases or brownouts or a sudden change in a cloud providers terms of service or service level agreement.”

The ability to shift large workloads has led to suggestions of a “follow the moon” strategy which takes advantage of lower costs for power and cooling during overnight hours. In this scenario, virtualized workloads are shifted across data centers in different time zones to capture savings from off-peak utility rates. Can it work? There are many challenges to overcome. But Cisco and VMware have demonstrated the ability to use Vmotion to migrate virtual machines from one data center to another, and have a video and white paper with additional details.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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