ProLiant Servers - Netservers

Disaster Recovery Software - what is HP's view?

ed williams_6
Occasional Contributor

Disaster Recovery Software - what is HP's view?

I have been researching the use of various Disaster Recovery utilities to facilitate the recovery of HP servers (mainly Proliants) to dissimilar hardware as might be required in the event of a complete site loss. Recovery would be from tape media at a new location where the availability of matching HP hardware cannot be assumed.

Products considered so far are:

Veritas NetBackup with Veritas Bare Metal Recovery (BMR) formerly owned by Tivoli
Tivoli TSM with Cristie Bare Machine Recovery (CBMR)
Symantec Livestate version 4 with dissimilar hardware restore option (Beta test version)

The key theme running through all of these products is that a 'backup set' of files from an existing server are to be restored to a recovery server in order to provide continued functioning of the original server role(s).

Veritas CBMR works by installing a version of Windows and restoring the original servers files over the top of this. Registry entries are merged such that the application functionality is retained. Low level driver settings are amended.

TSM with CBMR works by booting from a Linux boot CD; connecting to TSM to install a subset of the original Windows OS plus TSM client files. It then hacks the registry & allows the user to install low level drivers. Windows then boots and the TSM client is used to restore the remaining Windows files, PnP services are used to detect any install any other changed hardware.

Symantec Livestate appears to use generic Windows drivers provided from a Windows PE boot CD to download volume images containing the OS & it then hacks the registry to use the correct Windows drivers. I have heard that HP have recently produced generic drivers for Microsoft or what the implication of this for support.

All of the above methods bypass the HP Smart Start installation & consequently the quality / performance of the resulting server is thrown into question.

What is the HP view of these dissimilar hardware recovery methods? Is there a recommended approach or set of best practices?

Would HP still provide support for Windows servers that have been recovered under these circumstances? What about remote locations &/or SOHO/SME installations where clustering solutions are impractical?

Do HP favour any one solution over any other?

Any answers would be most appreciated.
Technophobia - the fear of something you've fixed
Frequent Advisor

Re: Disaster Recovery Software - what is HP's view?

Ed - There is so much to consider and your DR plan needs to be very specific to your environment otherwise you will get unpredictable results. I will list a few things to consider but this may leave you with more questions than answers.

The first thing to understand is that Disaster Recovery is a process not a product. The planning for a DR plan is the most overlook area and often leads to failure. This is also the phase that sets the criteria for the required products.

You also must get executive buy-in. Otherwise, why waste your efforts on a plan that will never be implemented. You also need the business folks to understand their roles in non-IT functions which will be vital in the DR process.

When you do start looking at products consider them a tool not an end-all. HP does make a very good product called HP OpenView Data Protector. This competes with VERITAS NetBackup. Data Protector supports a low-end function called One-Button Disaster Recovery (OBDR) as well as high-end backup and archival processes. There are also lots of peripheral products that support specialized processes like hot backups of databases.

In addition to the software consider some hardware as well. Backing up your data first to disk and then to tape gives you greater flexibility and options. You also need to put together the restore procedures and it must be tested. While this seems rudimentary, the testing of the restore process is often bypassed. It is also a good idea to also have availability to server and storage resources at an alternate site. This can range from a cold process on the cheap to a fully functional hot-site.

I hope this information is helpful. DR planning can be a daunting task. You may consider doing lots of research and getting educated on the steps necessary to complete a DR plan but you may also consider getting a consultant to assist in the planning and implementation.
ed williams_6
Occasional Contributor

Re: Disaster Recovery Software - what is HP's view?

David, thanks for the reply. Please be assured I do appreciate what you are saying, DR is much more than just a technical issue, I prefer to think about it in terms of business continuity, since there is no point recovering the IT if the business is still scr3wed.

However, my question specifically asks for HP's technical opinion of the methods indicated.

Assuming that you have to do a Windows Bare Metal Recovery to dissimilar hardware what is the HP approved way to do this?

What are the drawbacks? Would HP support the resultant server? There are many technical points that need to be considered that could effect server stability.

The products mentioned are the only ones I know of that are capable of performing this task in anything like an automated manner (I stress this latter part as I know it may be done manually).

Note: I know I could use RDP to deploy servers & applications automatically & then restore data files from backup, but there are a subset of machines for which this would not be appropriate e.g. 3rd party installed apps that change by the week etc.
Technophobia - the fear of something you've fixed