I’m a leaf on the wind…watch how I soar!

I recently met with a Canadian cloud innovator, DataGardens, to provide some input on how their solutions would benefit different market segments, and be used for different key continuity and security functions. If you haven’t heard of DataGardens (I have to admit, I wasn’t familiar with them either) or their flagship solution, DataGardens WAVE, you might want to take a look at them again. Especially if you have need for virtualization or cloud business continuity services.

DataGardens is a Canadian software company located out of Edmonton that focuses on providing next generation business continuity solutions. They’ve won many awards for their technology, and it’s not surprising. Their main solution, WAVE (Wide Area Virtualized Environment) is a suite of business continuity services that support physical and virtual infrastructures through low bandwidth data links that can extend thousands of miles. Think of it as vMotion, but more advanced.

DataGardens WAVE allows organizations to do live VM migration between sites using low bandwidth interconnects with automatic assignment of IP addresses and redirection of clients if they change subnets. It also does live rollback of servers and volumes while keeping processes active as if they were in their original place. In addition, it does fail-over and fail-back of VMs and data volumes to a remote site and back with only incremental changes and corrupted data blocks being transmitted between sites.

While you might scratch your head and think “ok, so what?”, keep in mind the key issue with disaster recovery and business continuity: bandwidth. If all of a sudden you need to move your entire environment from Point A to Point B (or even multiple points to a single point) and you have a lot of data, it can be visually interpreted as jamming a plug into a small hole. Having technologies such as WAN optimization will absolutely help, but sometimes disasters happen and you don’t have such luxuries. If you can move the same amount of data just as easily using low bandwidth data links, well, you’re ahead of the game.

So how does it work? Well, DataGardens WAVE is built on a unique type of architecture that uses Distributed Virtual Resources (DVR) which contains things like physical data volumes, VMs and virtual network appliances. The DVRs are constructed from a pair of replicas which span two sites, one active and one in a suspended state offsite. The DVR captures disk and memory changes from the active one, transmits them to the remote location and patches them into the replica which lies hidden.

What I like is that it’s easy to manage, it can be done by typical IT managers and it costs a lot less than some of the existing solutions out there, hosted or not. You can also use it for multiple sites, not just point to point, which means if there is a key issue, you can take multiple sites offline and run them in a single offsite DR space and run business as normal, then shift them back.
What I mentioned as a really cool idea would be if this type of solution could be automated through trigger events that might come from a Web Application Firewall (WAF). Picture this: your WAF detects mutiple income breach attempts (SQL injections etc) that are aimed at a web application facing a key database. What if the WAF could trigger an alert to DataGardens WAVE and say “Houston, we have a problem!” and WAVE says “ok, let’s move all this stuff out of here until we figure out what is going on.” and suddenly everything migrates instantly from that site to an off-site DR location. Even if the attack was successful, there would be nothing behind that web app for them to get at.

I wouldn’t doubt that these new technologies start working closer with security solutions to provide automation and flexibility in how we deal with cloud and virtualization attacks. It’s new ground with lots of room for innovation. DataGardens already is on the right path, and I am excited to see where it takes them.

For more information on DataGardens, visit http://www.datagardens.com/

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