From Small Things Big Things Come

Companies are downsizing, profits are dwindling and everybody is trying to do more with less. It seems the only thing that continues to grow in business these days is the amount of data a company stores.

I still find it a bit humorous that when I started in the “computer business” we used to keep company files on a 5-inch floppy disk. For those who recall those halcyon days, the available storage space was very limited and if you ran out of space, you started another disk.

Today, even the smallest of companies would need an entire library of those disks to store all their data – customer files, tax files, inventory, business contacts, there’s a lot out there. Not only is there a lot of data to store, but that data is so valuable that its loss or even an interruption to accessing it would create havoc.

Nevertheless, despite their ever-expanding pool of data and the growing importance of it, many small businesses fail to see the need for a disaster recovery plan.

Woe is WANop

More often than not, when a small or medium business (SMB) says it can’t do something or doesn’t need to do it, what it is really saying is “we can’t afford it.” Arizona-based technology consultant Pierre Dorion raises this issue in a recent article in Dorian espouses the virtues of disaster recovery systems and notes that WAN optimization “is definitely a plus,” but goes on to caution:

“WAN optimization devices are not cheap. That technology comes at a price, and it’s only really valid when you have large amounts of data you need to replicate.”

He further laments that:

“If the connectivity is poor, or restricted enough to need something like WAN optimization to get our data across the wire, what happens when we try to get it back if we had a major site disaster? It becomes an issue—you need to think about that: it’s not all about backing up the data, it’s about being able to use it following a disaster. That’s the ultimate goal here.

“If you’re trying to bring back an entire data center after it was destroyed, well, now we have serious issues and we need a lot of bandwidth to bring it back. It’s a very important point to consider.”

Perhaps Mr. Dorion failed to consider the possibility of WAN Optimization (WANop) in a virtual or software state.

WAN Bam Boom

One of the first things I learned in the technology business is that hardware devices are expensive, while software is (by comparison) cheap. Historically, most WANop efforts have been largely hardware-based, making it cost-prohibitive for some. However, the time for virtual WANop is now here.

The growing use of virtualization, cloud services and distributed applications is gated by an underlying WAN infrastructure plagued by bandwidth limitations, latency and packet loss. This has driven a need for more flexible, cost-effective WANop deployed across private and public networks — from the cloud, to data centers, to branch offices. Proprietary and fixed hardware-based offerings have been unable to service this market effectively because they are tightly bound to the underlying hardware in a closed architecture, limiting deployment flexibility and scalability.

However, Silver Peak’s open architecture, via its software-based approach, dynamically leverages the performance of standard CPUs, general-purpose hardware and standard hypervisors to provide customers the most comprehensive options for deploying WANop on any platform including, now, a software option.

Rather than having to embed WANop in proprietary device, virtual WANop takes the underlying software that is used to power WANop devices and introduces a new software development kit (SDK), an application programming interface (API) to facilitate WANop deployments on a wide variety of industry standard hardware platforms and hypervisors that likely already exist on an SMB network. This allows for tight integration with third-party hardware, including stand-alone servers, blades, storage arrays and routers. The result is a flexible, scalable and highly customizable solution for widespread WANop deployments at a more cost-effective price point.

And with a software solution for WANop, there’s less of a reason why a small business can’t go big with its data recovery plan.