Sometimes, it can be difficult to get budget to enhance or upgrade Disaster Recovery (DR) resources. Organizations are hesitant to spend money on things that do not get used often, or even at all if you are lucky. Unfortunately, in today’s IT climate, DR is more important than ever. In the last few years, many organizations have become acquainted with disasters, whether they be natural or man-made, like the dramatically growing incidents of ransomware attack.

One of Veeam’s newest solutions, Veeam Availability Orchestrator, or VAO, can help increase the usability of a DR environment in many ways. First and foremost, VAO enables businesses to reduce the time, cost and effort associated with planning for and recovering from a disaster. Unlike most DR tools, it also produces highly-detailed, customizable documentation which can be automatically sent to key stakeholders and can be used for DR compliance.

At the heart of VAO is something we call the Failover Plan. The Failover Plan is the steps that will be taken for a group of Virtual Machines during a disaster. VAO comes with many Plan Steps out of the box, such as verifying applications like IIS, SQL, Exchange, and SharePoint. Custom Plan Steps can also be created, which means existing DR scripts can be leveraged as needed for all other applications critical to your business.

After a Failover Plan has been initially configured, a Readiness Check can be performed immediately, as well as scheduled to run on a recurring basis. The Readiness Check ensures your environment is ready for failover and alerts you to any issues preventing failover for remediation. If that wasn’t enough, we can take testing one step further by leveraging Veeam DataLabs, a secure, isolated virtual environment ideal for testing and troubleshooting, without impacting production.

VAO has the ability to start a Veeam DataLab on-demand, or on a scheduled basis. There are several use cases for this, first of which is the aforementioned testing. By running and proving a Failover Plan in a completely isolated DataLab, you can ensure that real world failovers will happen seamlessly in the event of a disaster. Upon test completion, a custom report is generated detailing the steps taken during running the test and the outcome, verifying the Failover Plan has been successfully executed. DataLab testing and documentation is perfect for delivering peace of mind to business continuity stakeholders, as well as proving DR compliance.

After a fully-functional copy of the production environment is proven, the fun can truly begin. Because DataLabs are so easy to run with VAO — just a few mouse clicks — it is possible to leverage these copies on a regular basis. This can enable using DR resources for many things such as:

  • Patch testing
  • Application upgrade testing
  • Security auditing and testing
  • DevOps
  • Analytics
  • And more!

Often, applications critical to the business are the most vulnerable. It is imperative to protect them in the event of any type of disaster. With Veeam, it’s possible to protect these applications and the business they support at a level that was previously unachievable by conducting frequent testing of critical security patches and application upgrades in a fully-isolated environment. This also extends to providing these isolated environments to security teams for auditing and testing.

It is often easy to underinvest in DR environments with old or slow hardware since they “probably won’t even be used,” ultimately resulting in a compromised DR strategy. By extending DR capabilities beyond traditional concepts and methods, sourcing funding for DR environments and initiatives becomes much easier. With VAO, instead of letting resources sit idle, your DR investments can now be easily leveraged to provide additional value to the business, all while ensuring the continuity of IT service should disaster strike.

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