I was intrigued with the product announcement VMware made at VMWorld conference about their Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Product
While the concepts behind SRM are not new (various vendors have offered business continuity tools to automate site to site service fail over with a "single button" in recent years), it is new to the x86 virtualization solution space. SRM includes tools to organize the virtual resources into a proper recovery sequence to reduce possible administrative mistakes, integrates with storage arrays to leverage array capabilities such as replication and LUN management between primary and recovery sites, and includes a test mode.
The SRM product has all the fundamental features needed for streamlining a disaster recovery solution. I had the opportunity to conduct in-depth market and product research with my previous employer to develop a similar solution (Novell's Business Continuity Clustering [BCC] product, that first shipped August, 2004) and was pleased to see that VMware's findings of required features matched very well. However, I had found an interesting problem in BCC product deployment and acceptance in the industry. While senior IT directors liked the concepts and ideas of the product, it had the effect of forcing the IT storage management team to work with the IT server and applications management teams. Interestingly enough, this became more of a show stopper than I had ever anticipated.I fear VMware's SRM product may face similar issues.
I'm not alone in my findings. Attending the Wednesday Keynote at VMWorld, the attendees were entertained by Cisco's CEO John Chambers. John is a very engaging speaker, capturing the interest of the audience, especially my interest. One of John's main points is that IT organizations must change for the future. They must move from siloed organizations to collaborative organizations. John has been forcing this transition to occur within Cisco's internal IT department, and while painful, it has produced results. John claimed that Cisco has saved over $200 million in IT costs, has delayed data center expansion needs by 4 years, and is able to respond to new technology needs in days as opposed to months. He attributed these improvements/savings not only to use of technology, but to organizational change: Siloed -> Collaborative. John illustrates that CEO buy-in and drive is required for such a change.
In working with organizations attempting to implement disaster recovery or business continuity solutions, I've found that only those that can break down their organizational silos are most effective in building proven solutions.
So if you are looking at Site Recovery Manager, I'd say that you should first look at your IT organization. If you are a siloed organization (the storage team does their own thing, etc.), then I expect you may not realize any value or possibly only marginal value from SRM. However, if your IT organization has transformed into a collaborative team, focused on managing business processes and the applications/services that feed those processes, then SRM can significantly help your organization achieve a leaner more reliable disaster recovery strategy.
[Posted by Richard Jones]