Business Continuity through IBM SoftLayer

One of the prevailing themes at IBM InterConnect 2015 was the dawn of the Enterprise embrace of Hybrid-Cloud.  The standard was also set that the term 'Hybrid-Cloud' will go away because Clouds, connected to other Clouds will be the norm.  Per definition, all Cloud are Hybrid-Clouds.

The use-case of Business Continuity as a Service, in combination with IBM SoftLayer, is quite compelling.  It enables Enterprises to simultaneously reduce capital costs while reducing reducing risk.  Usually reductions in costs and risk don't move in proportion to one another.

Traditionally, a business continuity plan would consist of a Disaster Recovery service for a portion or all of the IT estate.  This would require 2X in capital expenditure because you  need to buy two of everything; one primary and a second for failover, preferably to a geographically distant location.  I liken this to a person buying a 2nd, identical car, so they can avoid having to buy car insurance.  Financially its a stretch.

The benefit of an on-demand Cloud such as SoftLayer, you only pay for what you use and only when/if you have to use it.  This model is well suited for DR use-cases.  If I incur a primary side disaster, I can fail over to the on-demand resource and only then start paying for what I use.  No need to make an upfront capital investment.  To continue the car analogy, it would be the equivalent of having insurance pay for a rental car while my original car is being fixed or replaced.

With an on demand, easily accessible network and compute available through SoftLayer, the question is, how do I get my data from my on-prem environment to SoftLayer to use, in the event of a disaster.

The partnership between SoftLayer, Equinix and NetApp play a crucial role in getting the data where you need it and when you need it.  NetApp Private Storage (NPS) for SoftLayer provides an effective method for Enterprise customers to efficiently and cost effectively synchronize their data, over standard IP connections, to a NetApp system which resides in an Equinox Colocation facility.  There are select Equinix data-centers which are located in close proximity to the SoftLayer datacenter.  Direct Link, from SoftLayer, provides a low latency connection from their datacenter directly to Equinix Cloud Exchange.  This enables Enterprise customers to make direct data links to their data, residing on the NetApp system, through standard protocols, NFS, CIFS or iSCSI.  Essentially the NetApp storage target exists as though it was in the same rack as the on-demand SoftLayer server used for Disaster Recovery.  

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Provided that an Enterprise Customer has NetApp FAS on their primary site, they can setup a SnapMirror connection to the NetApp FAS located in the Equinix colocation facility, allowing for space and bandwidth efficient mirrored copies of their data to exist on both sites.  In the event of a disaster, the customer would power-on the associated servers in SoftLayer and they will access the replicated copy of the data on the NetApp FAS which is in the Equinox Colocation facility.

This is a compelling Business Continuity use-case which Enterprise IT can lower costs while decreasing business risk though a more cost effective and cost appropriate Disaster Recovery solution.