End of World problems: disaster recovery / secure remote access for SMB?
December 19, 2013 12:46 PM Subscribe
What are IT folks doing to ensure continuity for small business customers whose offices could be affected by natural disasters? Is XenDesktop a good idea, and if so, what configuration would seem to make the most sense? Other ideas also fervently solicited.
posted by Embryo to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
After Hurricane Sandy hit, one of my clients' New Jersey office was offline and inaccessible for quite some time. They asked for a solution that would help them keep their businesses going even in the event of serious infrastructural disruption, and as a result we migrated them to Box.net. They've got about 30 users in total, and so every user began syncing the 100GB or so of files they have access to between their local computers and the cloud.
This was a disaster. Box's current sync tool strained under the load and, because of its design, would get way behind on changes. We worked to mitigate problem after problem with Box and its tools, but eventually the client despaired and decided to throw in the towel. The one thing that really saved our bacon was Box's "Edit" tool which lets you essentially open and save documents directly to and from a browser. When it worked, this was a serviceable cloud "office" space, which was why Box had seemed to make sense in the first place. But in the meantime, Box had broken their physical office space.
So we bounced and went back to the local server. And now, after all this hassle, I still don't have another plan that I feel 100% confident about.
There's also a new twist. They've added the additional requirement that they would like not to share files directly with remote users' machines. This obviously would totally rule out Box to begin with -- and I told them "you know, screenshots" -- but it also rules out VPN access to shared drives, which was going to be the interim plan for remote access. But a VPN doesn't resolve the infrastructure problem, either.
So I've been looking at Citrix' offerings. I think our current server could probably support a normal remote access workload (a handful of users at most). But it wouldn't be able to handle all 30 users running Desktops and/or Apps and working on the shared docs in a secure environment. But I'm also having a terrible time figuring out what kind of hardware we *would* need in that instance.
It feels like the plan that's percolating is to get a few XenDesktop licenses, and have the local server available for remote sessions. That covers the remote access needs, and also keeps files in-house (except for screenshots, obviously.) But the disaster recovery component seems like it could be very expensive: for a whole new set of hardware and running colocation fees. I also don't know how mirroring Citrix VMs goes or how expensive that is.
So here's the first question: does Citrix XenDesktop or XenApp seem to make any sense for my users? If so, what kind of hardware would I need for 30 users of mainly Office apps to work in XenDesktop with 200GB of shared documents between them?
And the second question: What are other IT folks doing for their SMB clients who fear the physical integrity of their local offices, but want to keep using them except in times when they are disrupted?
Thanks for any advice anyone might be able to offer. Super super appreciated. <3