Someone once said to me that making changes in an enterprise mission-critical production data center storage area network (SAN) is akin to changing the wheels on a 747 as it is taking off. There is no room for error, you better be damn good at what you are doing and you need at least three back out plans in your back pocket should something go wrong. So what does this have to do with Continuity Software’s RecoverGuard? This is the type of environment that it says its RecoverGuard software can monitor in order to help companies recreate a replica of at a disaster recovery site.
Individuals that are responsible for managing these types of environments know the challenges associated with managing these environments and keeping them operational. Every change in these environments is typically fraught with risk with little or no margin for error. So a great deal of time for most companies is spent making sure nothing goes wrong in these environments. However ensuring that upgrades and changes implemented on production servers, storage systems and Fibre channel switches are replicated to the disaster recovery site is a different matter. It either never occurs or happens at best in a haphazard fashion.
The purpose of a disaster recovery site is simple: recover the production environment, ideally in hours or even minutes. However the reality of keeping the disaster recovery environment in sync with the production environment is a totally different matter. To do so requires individuals to constantly monitor every change – documented and undocumented – in the production environment and then make the exact same change at the disaster recovery site within hours after the production change is made. If that sounds impractical that’s because it is.
This inability to accurately recreate the production environment at the disaster recovery site is the reason that Continuity Software created RecoverGuard. RecoverGuard’s premise is that it monitors SAN hardware at the production and disaster recovery sites and gathers information about their configuration. Once gathered, it compares the information and reports on the discrepancies that exist between production and disaster recovery sites.
However RecoverGuard goes beyond that. It also generates a topology map so companies can understand the business impact of how out of whack the two environments actually are. This report documents in black and white what the environment actually looks like and, in many cases, illustrates how broken the DR site is when compared to the production site. From a business perspective, it helps companies understand that despite spending millions of dollars to build a disaster recovery site, they still can not recover their production application.
To show its value to companies and demonstrate it works, Continuity Software gives companies the opportunity to test drive RecoverGuard for $15,000. This price tag includes setting up and configuring RecoverGuard to gather the needed information from 30 servers in the SAN infrastructure. Avi Stone, Continuity Software’s Director of Marketing, says that RecoverGuard usually finishes gathering the needed information in about 48 hours that the Continuity Software assessment team uses as the background data to present to management in the organization.
More remarkable is what happens next. What is no surprise is that RecoverGuard always finds critical problems that impact the client’s ability to recover. What is unusual is that Stone claims Continuity Software has a 100% conversion rate of clients who go from performing the assessment to buying the RecoverGuard software. Of course, when one considers that if one buys professional services from either EMC or Symantec to do a similar assessment, it would cost $150,000. Continuity Software claims that their assessment would not be as accurate or as fast as Continuity Software’s $15,000 assessment so it is not a shock that companies are willing to lay out the $60K minimum to have RecoverGuard continually produce these reports.
Continuity Software has uncovered an unfilled niche at the most high end of the enterprise data protection market. While RecoverGuard still has some holes that it needs to fill (it does not provide mainframe support and monitoring replication pairs is still on its roadmap), for only being on the market for 7 months, it already has some notable success stories to share in helping companies maximize previous investments they have made in their data center DR dollars.