HotLink Brings Affordable Disaster Recovery to the Masses

To say that there is a whole lot of significant advancement to be seen on the expo floor at VMworld 2013 is an understatement.  There seems to be movement in just about every area of IT.  One aspect of the IT environment that remains a challenge for many revolves around disaster recovery.  While many organizations have done a reasonable job taking their backup and recovery processes to a level that can protect against hardware and software faults, cost and complexity have prevented many organizations – particularly those in the SMB space from achieving truly effective DR.

HotLink is an interesting a company that is aiming to simplify the IT management paradigm both within the data center and in both the hybrid and public cloud.  With its SuperVISOR tool, HotLink is democratizing the data center by bringing multi-hypervisor and even cloud management under one management umbrella.

Enter DR Express

With the company’s latest offering, called DR Express, vCenter administrators gain the ability to make virtual machine level decisions as to which of them should be pushed to the Amazon cloud for DR purposes.  For this service, HotLink itself charges a flat rate of $25 per month per protected virtual machine.  The user still needs to pay Amazon for their part in the process, but HotLink’s own pricing makes this option particularly attractive.  DR Express can be configured with up to 500 restore points on a per virtual machine basis, so customers can very granularly determine which workloads truly require DR level protection and can provide a different number of restore points depending on the importance of the underlying information.

Inexpensive and simple

For the SMB, the solution means that there is no need to acquire or build a geographically separate disaster recovery site, which can be extremely expensive.  Moreover, this solution is far better than “taking the tapes home” which is still the kind of “DR” performed in many organizations.  HotLink DR Express provides organizations with a solution that carries a reasonable cost, is simple since it plugs right into vCenter, and automatically protects selected VMs by synchronizing content between local sources and the Amazon cloud.  DR Express leverages HotLink’s virtual machine transformation services to convert the virtual machine between the appropriate formats in both directions.

One main issue (but likely temporary)

Perhaps the primary downside to DR Express is its reliance solely on Amazon as a cloud services provider.  In some of my discussions with my non-US friends at VMworld, there is significant and growing concern about doing business with any US-based cloud services provider due to the issues that have been raised in recent months due to the NSA’s inappropriate and illegal domestic spying activities.  The unfortunate fact is that DR Express won’t see international uptake until other cloud providers are also included in the service’s offerings.  Even domestically, HotLink we need to establish partnerships with other cloud providers in order to ensure that the service enjoys truly broad uptake.

My take

It’s probably obvious that I believe that this service has a lot going for it.  Its services like this that I believe will form the foundation for many IT services of the future.  As I’ve mentioned before, IT needs to enter an era of vast simplicity coupled with reasonable costs.  CIOs would do well to consider services like this as a part of their DR platforms, particularly if DR has been an avoided activity.