In today’s uber competitive world, surging downtime costs and more stringent service-level requirements have shortened Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs). Effective Disaster Recovery (DR) planning is extremely vital to the business, but is quite difficult to get it right. The DR plan for an application is generally devised when the app is put into production, subsequent to which it is usually forgotten. It is not kept up-to-date as patches and updates are applied to the application, which can cause version conflicts and other issues during the restoration process. DR plans become rapidly obsolete in today’s dynamic environments. An effective solution to keep DR plans updated and tested is to embed Salesforce DevOps practices.
Maintaining updated and correct DR plans is a continuous challenge within any IT organization. Numerous organizations struggle to maintain and authenticate their DR plans, minimizing the possibility of recovery. DR is a critical area where Salesforce DevOps practices prove extremely indispensable. Practices such as automation, Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD), and the use of cloud computing are instrumental in ensuring 100% availability and least or zero data loss.
By adopting a Salesforce DevOps Continuous Deployment approach for your applications, you multiply both the strength and efficacy of your DR strategy through enhanced deployment cadence and a code first practice.
What is Disaster Recovery (DR)?
DR is much more than mere restoration and validation of data. It usually involves the re-installation of applications and laborious re-configuration to reflect changes that have been made over a period of time. In today’s extremely complex and dynamic IT landscape, it’s onerous to keep track of those changes and embed them into DR plans. However, Salesforce DevOps processes and automation can also be applied to DR, drastically reducing the time it takes to restore applications and services.
In simple words, DR is all about how swiftly the business continues to function immediately after a disaster. It’s a part of business continuity planning and a set of actions to be taken before, during, and after a disaster to help protect businesses in such an event.
What can the disastrous events be? Well, the events can be anything from simple human mistakes to hardware failures to uncontrolled disruptions that can lead to extensive damages and huge business losses. For instance, when your cloud provider is down, an accidental mistake deleted your database, a wrong swap wiped off your storage account or a most common one, the fat finger problem.
DR is the amount of impact an organization can withstand during a disaster. There are two key metrics that define the impact:
- RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and
- RPO (Recovery Point Objective)
RTO is the optimum amount of time your application can be offline and depends on the SLAs you offer to your customers – the assurance you make them regarding your service availability and the consequences of failure to deliver. RPO is the optimum amount of time during which the data might be lost during a disruption. Usually, the smaller the RTO and RPO values are, the swifter an application will recover from a disruption. And how swiftly completely depends on the high availability (HA) of the service and DR patterns.
There are three patterns in DR as mentioned below:
- Hot DR Pattern: In this, you have an exact replica copy of your production environment instantly available, including staff, network systems, power grids, and almost instant data backups; you can move from production to backup with zero downtime, but it will cost you immensely. Which one to choose completely depends on the needs of your organization.
- Cold DR Pattern: This is the equivalent of having little or no equipment set up for recovery; you’re saving money since you don’t have any infrastructure downtime, but it will take you a Herculean effort and time to get back to business.
- Warm DR Pattern: In this type of pattern, you have some kind of backup infrastructure, but it’s not the exact replica of your production environment. Hence, the recovery process is extremely time consuming while you retrieve your data.
How to Use Salesforce DevOps to Improve DR Planning and Make it Simple and More Effective?
Salesforce DevOps enables Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) of software changes so that applications can be managed with greater efficacy and re-shaped as required. It also uses automated tools for application deployment and combines a process for authenticating applications between development and testing environments and production. This makes it possible to expedite application releases while reducing human error.
In other words, IT teams that follow a Salesforce DevOps approach systematically go through procedures for testing changes to applications. By integrating DR planning into the Salesforce DevOps pipeline, IT can ensure that the DR plan is managed along with the application. The integration of DR into Salesforce DevOps also recognizes that recovery is fundamentally the same as an application deployment. If an application is implemented only once, the knowledge acquired during implementation will possibly be lost by the time recovery is required. A Salesforce DevOps approach enables IT to apply the current deployment experience gained through CI/CD to DR processes. Furthermore, the automated tools that are used to migrate applications from development/testing into production and back again can be used to failover and recovery. DR environments that simulate production can be used for Salesforce DevOps workspaces to make the most of capacity that is traditionally non-functional.
DR planning has always been difficult, and now it has become all the more difficult due to burgeoning numbers of applications and services, and the rapidly advancing pace of change. Salesforce DevOps processes are devised to help IT better manage change, and can improve DR planning through current updates, constant authentication and automated tools.
We often come across one of these two scenarios in organizations:
- When an application is first put into production, organizations create a DR plan for it, but later neglect to update it as they patch and update the application, which causes certain issues during the restoration process. Continuous DR testing is critical to ensure a successful recovery, but it’s often disregarded because it’s dilatory, exorbitant, and complex, and can disrupt the production environment. DR testing can impact customers and revenue, which is why a few organizations don’t indulge in testing at all, while others use offsite backups to test. But it’s significant to note that failing to properly test your DR plan can lead to prolonged downtime.
- Alternatively, we also see organizations who invest heavily in backup infrastructure that are replicas of their production environments and can be deployed when there is a disaster or service disruption. The problem with this strategy is that it’s exorbitant and, with the exception of a few recovery exercises per annum, the backup infrastructure remains unused. And the crux of Salesforce DevOps is cost savings.
Organizations can benefit from virtualization technologies, storage area networking, and software-defined networking. Hypervisors and virtual machines (VMs) can be upscaled or scaled down in a jiffy, while software-defined networks can be re-routed and automatically transferred to different connections. Usually, your data is already accessible to the environment; so, constant application and operations testing can be performed with the help of real data instead of copying it, which is a tedious process.
If you want to failover, the monitoring system can modify the storage points and stop the virtual machines. You can then manually restore services by reverting all the changes that were made automatically via scripts. The goal is to actually utilize your ‘backup’ infrastructure instead of allowing it to be non-functional, which is exactly contrary to what Salesforce DevOps stands for.
DR is extremely critical when you are dealing with applications, especially in businesses where your software and data are the most precious things. Salesforce DevOps is the perfect remedy for such sensitive business situations as its pipeline automates your DR process while reducing human errors and minimizing the restoration time to the maximum. So, if you wish to optimize your DR process, adopt Salesforce DevOps practices at the earliest as it can enable your DR planning with greater efficacy.
With its mission of “DevOps as a Service,” CloudFulcrum has been a part of multiple successful Salesforce implementations worldwide with satisfied customers in BFSI, Healthcare, Retail, Real Estate, and Technology verticals.
With our Salesforce DevOps consulting, we help enterprises align their Digital Transformation goals to achieve higher efficiency, faster time-to-market, and better quality of software builds with early identification of arising issues, enabling continuous release of Salesforce applications.