To fend off physical and man-made disasters, network administrators need to
act ahead. Emerging technologies for business continuity include VPNs
(virtual private networks), SANs (storage area networks), VoIP (voice over
Internet protocol), and satellite links.
From the 9/11 disaster, companies have learned some hard lessons about the
need for technological and geographic redundancies, speakers said at
the Wall Street Technology Association’s recent conference on “Security,
Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity.”
When a telecom cable went down during 9/11, for example, between 9,000 and
14,000 small to mid-size businesses in New York City were left without
phone and/or dial-up Internet service, according to the panelists. Many
outages lasted for weeks. Meanwhile, cellular phone coverage was spotty, at
Also in the aftermath of the disaster, SunGard Business Continuity Services
supported 22 disaster declarations, and Comdisco, another 90 declarations.
IBM Global Services (IGS) worked on recovery efforts for more than 1,200
Beyond terrorism, other threats to business continuity include earthquakes,
tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods, to name a few.
“You need to think about (disaster planning) from the outset. It’s not
enough to put a Band-Aid on afterward,” cautioned Ed Walsh, VP of storage
solutions at CNT Corp.
Instead, companies need to prepare comprehensive disaster recovery plans,
according to Walsh. “Categorize applications to determine requirements.
Determine which applications and data are critical. Know your cost of
downtime for these applications. Develop a solution that considers a
combination of need and cost. As recovery time decreases, cost increases,”
Business recovery plans should also include workarounds for possible
problems with plane and ground transportation. Many companies have relied
on trucks, for example, to move LAN back-up tapes off-site – a strategy
that quickly runs into trouble if roads are closed due to a disaster.
As alternative storage and backup technologies, Walsh pointed to
synchronous remote data replication to a data center, asynchronous data
replication to a hot standby; remote virtual tape; FC (fiber channel) SAN
tape/disk extensions; and iSCSI tape back-up.
According to the Meta Group, networked storage through SAN and NAS
(networked attached stage) will account for about 70% of all storage
by 2007 or 2008.
Walsh also suggested using new SRM (storage resource management) tools to
identify critical applications and data dependencies; implement storage
policies; perform back-up and recovery; and monitor storage networks.
Tools vendors in this general space include EMC, BMC, Veritas, IBM Tivoli,
and McData, for example.
Meanwhile, companies are now looking to VPNs for “fluid infrastructure” as
well as privacy, according to Mark Tuomenoska, chairman and founder of
Unlike the circuit-based PSTN (public switched telephone network) or shared
packet networks like frame relay or ATM (asynchronous transfer mode), IP
VPNs can provide unlimited virtual circuits, he noted.
Tuomenoska also touted other VPN benefits, such as support for multimodal
access technologies; including analog, ISDN, DSL and cable; “broadband
speeds” of up to 512K for DSL or 1 Mbps for cable; vendor independence; end-to
-end security; lower costs; and faster time-to-market. VPNs can be
“deployed in hours versus weeks or months,” he maintained.
Acknowledging that IP latency problems still linger, Tuomenoska advised
establishing dual frame relay and VPN connections to distributed branch
offices for storage back-up and recovery.
“Non-latency sensitive traffic (is) shifted to the VPN. Latency-sensitive
transaction traffic remains on frame. Restricted mode tunnels preclude
direct access to the Internet, if desired. Transactions no longer contend
with other traffic,” he explained.
Voice is another application that lends itself to IP, according to Kevin
Sumrell, senior product manager at IPC. “You already have the (IP)
infrastructure. Why be held hostage to a single (telecom) carrier?” he
Sumrell contended that many businesses in New York City didn’t consider
VoIP as a backup communications strategy “until it was too late.”
“There will be a significant expansion in VoIP over the next couple of
years, especially with the growth of VPNs,” he predicted.
As current advantages to VoIP, Sumrell pointed to universal IP addressing;
bandwidth availability; enablement for multicast, or “one-to-many”
communications; and integrated support for voice, data, and multimedia.
“Through universal IP addressing, if I lose a connection, it’s much easier
to switch to another connection. The switching can be done anywhere,”
according to Sumrell.
Sumrell admitted that VoIP still faces challenges that include security,
network latency, and QoS (quality of service). For voice delivery, although
not for data, QoS “must be managed consistently throughout the network,” at
each end point.
Ultimately, though, VoIP will be “more secure than the telephone network is
today,” according to Sumrell. “There is no encryption on PSTN,” he pointed
Jeff Gross, general manager of Immeon, sees satellite services as the best
method for backup communications.
“Alternatives (don’t) offer true diversity since they run in the same cable
as the primary T1 service,” according to Gross.
Immeon’s satellite services are also cost effective, since businesses “only
pay for satellite services when using them,” he asserted.
Immeon currently uses Telstar 7 satellites transmitting in the Ku-band for
its managed services. Enterprise customers include the New York State
Insurance Fund; StorageTek; and Haverty’s Furniture.
According to Gross, the company is now moving beyond traditional VSAT into
broadband services that include video conferencing, data collection, and
video surveillance, for example, as well as business continuity.
Gross cited survey results showing that many companies rely on hot sites
located more than 100 miles away for data center recovery. “This is a
perfect fit for Immeon’s instant-on back-up links,” according to Gross.
One conference-goer asked Gross about the feasibility of establishing line-of
-sight communications – a prerequisite for satellite services – in urban
“We can almost always find a spot (for the dish) somewhere on the roof
where we can get line-of-sight,” Gross responded.
This article was first published on CrossNodes, an EarthWeb and internet.com site.