A Closer Look at Recent Airline Outages: Where Was The DR Plan?

A Closer Look at Recent Airline Outages: Where Was The DR Plan?

If you are a frequent traveler like me (I’ve logged over 2 million “in the seat” miles over my lifetime flying around the world), you know the frustration of a delayed flight and being stuck in an airport overnight – it’s no darn fun. As I travel this week from San Jose to Las Vegas to attend VMWorld, I recalled a recent conversation with VMWare and cloud infrastructure guru @ConvergedJustin about the trials and tribulations with airlines and their aging infrastructure.

While Disaster Recovery is not usually a hot topic among us security experts, when you have three failures of on-premises infrastructure and disaster recovery plans in the same year, it’s definitely worth some conversation. The recent airline outages of Delta and Southwest Airlines were caused by legacy technology failures, and if you’re wondering about the third outage, travel back to October of 2015 when Southwest had a 12-hour outage due to legacy technology issues. By the end of our conversation, both of us were scratching our heads over these three very visible failures of on-premises infrastructure in less than a year. This led us to ask ourselves: “What happened to the DR Plan and Infrastructure?”

To be fair, airline reservations systems are based on 1960’s technology infrastructure that hasn’t been retrofitted or upgraded in decades due its highly specialized processing environments. Many traditional block storage vendors still sell monolithic enterprise class storage array even as that market is shrinking. Additionally, airlines own their own data centers and on-premises infrastructure and – theoretically – their own disaster recovery and failover plans.

Yet in other industries, we’re seeing a whole slew of “cloud first” organizations of varying sizes embracing virtualization and cloud from day one.  When it comes to technology platforms, these organizations are enjoying the freedom of predictable OPEX models, automation of security throughout the stack, the ability to stand up dev and test environments only when needed and, more importantly for this discussion, access to multiple geographically dispersed regions to set up disaster recovery sites. Oh, and those cloud first companies that want DR sites – they can add and remove those any time they want.

What’s the end result of this? New and emerging companies not even close to the size of an airline are “cloud first” and have a more robust infrastructure than a mature enterprise with global reach. These new infrastructures even come with their own DR capabilities at a cost much less than owning a second data center and all that comes with it.

If your company manages its own infrastructure, perhaps VMware-based, and you’re thinking about disaster recovery or reducing their risk with a hybrid cloud architecture, Druva Phoenix is a modern solution that can provide the ability to:

Recover Instantly

Configured VMs are automatically converted to Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), and stored in customer configured and managed accounts, providing simpler failover setup and RTOs within minutes. AMIs are spun-up from inside the customer’s account with already-established security and network group settings, and Druva has no-access to the environment.

Recover Securely (In the Public Cloud)

By leveraging your existing Phoenix virtual machine snapshots stored in the security of the AWS cloud, full machine recovery, file-level restore or spin-up and failover within minutes is only a few clicks away.  This helps lower overall business costs with extra infrastructure, minimal configuration, and reduces the overall data attack surface.

Recover Globally

Phoenix lets you recover to any of AWS’ twelve selectable storage regions worldwide with data durability of 99.99999%.  In addition to being able to recover any AWS storage region, Phoenix’s one-to-many replication allows organizations to manage VMs across geographies and accounts for cloud migration and test/dev purposes with no additional infrastructure needed.

Recover in your own VPC

Phoenix pre-configures failover details like VPC settings, network and security group and boot instance type. Spin-up occurs in customer managed AWS accounts, ensuring both security and network are fully within their control.

Simplified Recovery

In addition to simplifying an organization’s overall infrastructure footprint, Phoenix provides a single console for VM backup, recovery and DR failover configuration.

The airline industry no doubt will have a painstakingly slow path to a more modern infrastructure, and we can only hope that enterprise storage vendors are readying themselves for the day that airlines move to the hyper-scalability of the cloud.

If you are headed to VMWorld like me, we wish you delay-free airline travel and on-time arrivals. Take a moment at the show to stop by the Druva booth and check out Druva’s solutions for DRaaS in the public cloud. We may be able to help you leave your legacy architecture behind (faster than any airline can hope for) and provide you with a forward-looking answer to the important question: ‘Where is your DR plan?’

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Andrew Nielsen

Andrew (a.k.a. Drew) has over 15 years of experience delivering security solutions. Spending many years as a customer in government and financial services before moving into product management/marketing gives Drew a unique perspective when it comes to understanding customer security requirements. At Druva, Drew is responsible for the security posture and strategy of its products and works closely with internal teams and external customers leading product direction and strategy for the the company's flagship offering. Prior to Druva, Drew has held various security leadership positions at companies like Raytheon, Silicon Valley Bank, Hitachi Data Systems, and FireEye.

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