IBM Systems Lab Services

Storage disaster recovery: Are you using the right tool?

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Disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity planning isn’t a one-time event. Effective DR and business continuity requires ongoing management and has to be integrated into your day-to-day operations.

Storage systems are one of the most critical dimensions in DR and business continuity planning, and most organizations feel that planning for it is a complex task due to numerous challenges that can surface during the course of recovery.

Being in a clientfacing role, I regularly engage with clients from various industriesbanking, financial, telecommunications and so on. Many of them are not confident in their organization’s ability to recover following a disaster.

What are the DR challenges?

The key pain points and business challenges that organizations seem to share with respect to storage disaster recovery are as follows:

  • Reconciling different stakeholders’ skill sets and perspectives to effectively manage applications and technology
  • Uncertainty about how successful a recovery would be since a disaster plan hasn’t been tested effectively
  • Dependency on scripts and experts to trigger the right processes in the correct sequence
  • Insufficient information management regulations or lack of compliance with ITIL best practices
  • Manual tracking of the recovery point objective (RPO) and compliance with it

As a result, the majority of clients I’ve talked to reported that they have not been able to recover their systems in a timely fashion in the event of an IT outage, eventually missing the intended recovery time objective (RTO).

I’ve come across clients employing various tools to address these challenges, but this can eventually cause numerous inevitable problems with the company’s DR strategy in terms of skill, cost and maintenance of the tools.

How can we address these challenges?

IBM Copy Services Manager graphic, Storage Disaster Recovery

Having worked with multiple clients, I’ve seen that using IBM Copy Services Manager can address the DR and business continuity pain points by automating the steps involved in a storage recovery and failback scenario. It also provides a wealth of features that simplify storage disaster recovery management, as highlighted in chart above.

Copy Services Manager is a replication management solution that delivers central control of the replication environment while helping to simplify and automate complex replication tasks. This stand-alone software hardly takes 10 minutes to set up on commodity hardware.

With Copy Services Manager, we can manage copy services on a variety of IBM storage systems, including IBM DS8000, IBM SAN Volume Controller, IBM Storwize family, IBM XIV Storage System and IBM FlashSystem A9000. It helps prevent errors and increase system continuity; it helps you to manage, automate and simplify storage system replication and DR activities.

Copy Services Manager offers a comprehensive approach to DR and business continuity process implementation and maintenance. You can trigger the right processes in correct sequences with a few mouse clicks, and without dependence on experts. It also helps you to enforce and sustain adherence to ITIL processes and regulatory compliance.

Copy Services Manager also provides users an opportunity to test their DR environment without interfering with daily operations by running a practice session before performing the actual action.

Business benefits

Here are some of the business advantages of using Copy Services Manager:

  • Relieves the unpredictably of untested procedures during the real recovery operations
  • Allows testing of DR actions without risking the protection of data at the secondary site
  • Removes the dependency on experts to trigger the recovery process
  • Is an ideal DR solution irrespective of underlying servers or IBM storage
  • Significantly reduces time required for failover in a disaster situation
  • Removes the complexities of running scripts
  • Offers convenient RPO reporting

Aligned with the compliance objectives

In industries like banking or telecommunications, companies typically maintain three copies of their data at three different sites due to regulatory compliance. And they switch their operations between the sites every quarter or half a year to ensure the continuity and operations at each respective site. Without any centralized management of replication, and without automaton of recovery steps, they have to plan weeks in advance.

Having Copy Services Manager in place simplifies storage-related tasks by automating storage recovery steps and allows clients to practice storage disaster recovery without compromising on data continuity. It also provides a historical RPO report that comes in handy during a compliance audit.


It’s been evident that a manual storage DR process, which typically takes an hour or more to switch production to a secondary site or vice versa, now takes only a couple of minutes with Copy Services Manager.

For all these reasons, there’s a clear value in deploying Copy Services Manager for the storage replication and DR management. To find out more about CSM, visit the IBM Knowledge Center.

And if you’re looking for support on DR and business continuity planning, the Lab Services Storage and Software Defined Infrastructure team has helped clients around the world efficiently capture, deliver, manage and protect data with superior performance. Reach out to IBM Systems Lab Services today.

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