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Expected disruptive events such as hurricanes, as well as unexpected ones such as public health outbreaks or geopolitical developments require business decision makers to prepare carefully. Organizations need the agility to act decisively and respond appropriately to keep the business running in the face of a multitude of probable disruptions. From an IT perspective, this leads to the unavoidable reality that organizations need agile infrastructure that enables flexibility and reduces complexity. HCI has seen a tremendous adoption rate by businesses as they modernize their infrastructure to enable IT agility by streamlining operations and eliminating IT silos. According to a survey from 451 Research, part of S&P Global’s Market Intelligence division, organizations that have adopted HCI say that this approach will represent almost 50% of their compute environments by 2021.

HCi adopters

A benefit that is sometimes overlooked is that IT built on a foundation of HCI enables the agility that businesses need for business continuity as well. Let’s take a look at 3 ways in which HCI enables business continuity for your organization.

1. Unlock burst-capacity options

Every business is unique, and in order to move with agility in the face of disruptions, you need options that meet your business constraints – constraints on data location due to governance, on application performance requirements for latencies and user experience, and of course on cost. You need a platform that unlocks the freedom to scale within the bounds of your business constraints, and a foundation built on HCI gives you the freedom to respond in alignment with your location, performance and cost requirements.

With HCI, you can manage costs by scaling easily as you grow on-premises and quickly re-allocate resources for new workloads. vSAN gives you ‘Core HCI’ capabilities that seamlessly combines storage and compute for immediate agility, and VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) automates deployment and operations for the full software defined infrastructure stack, including networking, enabling a fully automated private cloud. VCF also serves as the foundation for your hybrid cloud because the same core software-defined infrastructure stack leveraged in private cloud deployments of VCF is also the underpinning technology of VMware-based public clouds like VMware Cloud on Amazon Web Services and other VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP) partners, as well as VMware Cloud on Dell EMC. What’s more, vSAN provides the storage platform for VMware Cloud Foundation and is the default storage offering for VMware Cloud on AWS. So, whether with vSAN or VCF, you have a range of options at your disposal to scale IT resources either on-premises, or leverage burst-capacity in public clouds to augment on-premises capacity. You may choose to leverage existing on-premises investments for cost or performance (latency) reasons, or the public cloud for fast datacenter extension. With VMware Cloud on AWS for example, you can spin up in 17 AWS Regions worldwide in under 2 hours, and scale capacity in minutes, while using familiar VMware tools, skillsets and processes. Consistent infrastructure both on-prem and off-prem also lets you move workloads bi-directionally as needs change, without compromising attached policies (such as security) because they move along with the workload. The bottom line is that IT built on VMware HCI unlocks the power of the hybrid cloud to give you the options you need to adjust to changing business needs, while leveraging the same tools and skillsets your IT team already has.

HCI modernization

2. Enable remote workers through desktop virtualization

Desktop virtualization enables you to deliver digital workspaces that can be accessed remotely to enable work-from-anywhere and keep your business running from any location. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) was one of the first ‘killer’ use cases for HCI, and for good reason. High performance SSDs co-located with compute provides the performance for a “just-like-physical” desktop experience, which is critical in having buy-in from end users to adopt virtual desktops vs. having them demand physical ones. HCI also provides a distributed architecture that allows for elastic, non-disruptive scaling. Both capacity and performance can be scaled by adding a new host or new drives. This “grow-as-you-go” model provides predictable, linear scaling with affordable investments spread out over time, instead of large up-front capital expenses.

To help prepare for unforeseen disruptions, you can start with Horizon 7 running on HCI for certain classes of workers. Then, if a situation arises that requires more employees to work remotely or from home, you can simply expand your existing VDI deployment on-premises, or ‘burst’ to the public cloud. For example, with VMware Horizon 7 running on VMware Cloud on AWS, organizations can leverage a robust, feature-rich cloud platform for virtual desktops and applications to enable a remote workforce that has consistent infrastructure and operations with your on-premises deployment. With VCF Federation and Horizon Cloud Pod architecture you can manage hybrid VDI deployments spanning multiple on-premises and off-premises sites as one.

3. Recover quickly from outages and disasters

Unforeseen events often require your infrastructure to be resilient to infrastructure failures due to contained outages, or require systems be brought online in another location due to a disaster. In some situations, limited physical access to the datacenter or limited supply chains may limit your ability to fix datacenter hardware issues. HCI is software-defined infrastructure running on commodity hardware, which helps mitigate some of these risks. VMware’s HCI and other related solutions also work together to enable disaster recovery in multiple ways.

vSAN’s ability to provide a fully active-active, stretched cluster has already proven its value in data centers. vSAN also allows for storage redundancy within a site AND across sites at the same time. This helps deliver effective, affordable protection against entire site outages, as well as host outages within a site. Even in a disaster, security cannot be an afterthought and vSAN enables disaster recovery while ensuring security through data at rest encryption without the need to support special purpose hardware, as well as FIPS-140-2 certification.

With VMware vSphere Replication, you can protect against site-wide outages by asynchronously replicating data from a primary site to secondary sites. It is fully integrated in the hypervisor, with a recovery point objective (RPO) ranging from 5 minutes to 24 hours.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) automates and orchestrates the failover process to a secondary site in case your main site fails. Using recovery plans, SRM enables you to decide the sequence in which VMs power up, and to set up relevant network and storage properties. SRM also supports non-disruptive testing and detailed reporting, to help ensure your protection plans meet your targets, and to meet DR compliance requirements.

VMware Site Recovery (VSR) offers disaster recovery as-a-service (DRaaS) for VMware Cloud on AWS, enabling you to leverage recovery capabilities in the cloud. The service is built on SRM’s industry-leading solution, providing an end-to-end disaster recovery solution that is quick to deploy and leverages existing know-how.

Together, SRM and VSR enable multiple use cases for fast, automated disaster recovery either to another on-premises location or to the public cloud.

hci disaster recovery

Prepare for business continuity with HCI and the Hybrid Cloud

As you modernize your infrastructure, you can rely on vSAN and VMware Cloud Foundation to lay the IT groundwork to support business continuity scenarios when agility matters even more. You will be able to unlock burst capacity, enable remote workers, and recover systems in the event of a disaster.

Customers like Nol-Tec Systems, who have modernized their IT infrastructure with VMware Cloud Foundation, have been able to deploy a Horizon environment in a day, and are able to quickly scale up and scale out to maintain business resiliency.

Look below for more resources on how you can prepare your business for business continuity.

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