The cloud is about more than just data storage and ‘anytime/anywhere’ file access; it is increasingly being used as a disaster recovery tool.
With sensitive data, it’s important to plan for the best but prepare for the worst. Companies who need to avoid data loss – that is to say, almost every business – are recognising the value of cloud solutions.
Cloud solutions are capable of both protecting against and dealing with a potential catastrophe, but it’s important to know exactly what plans are in place and how the measures taken will cope.
It is important to remember that most organisations will have a mix of physical and virtual systems and need to account for both in their disaster recovery plan. In addition, there are many options available and businesses have to select what will suit them the best, be that physical like-for-like replication for business-critical production workloads, or using the cloud. These choices can be far from straightforward.
For those with a mix of physical and virtual infrastructure, using the cloud for disaster recovery is not a case of simply replicating data; it largely depends on the size and scope of the production workloads to be protected, and selecting the disaster recovery solution that is the most suitable for its replication.
It is essential that these issues are addressed early on to ensure the infrastructures work together. This then also dictates the selection of appropriate third party cloud vendors, as organisations cannot simply cherry pick a provider. The storage in use by both parties needs to be compatible.
Cloud computing can also provide separation between production systems and their disaster recovery counterparts. A suitable geographical distance helps avoid knock-on effects in the event of a localised disaster.
While the cloud certainly has its place in today’s disaster recovery strategies it is essential to stress the importance of proper planning – and testing. In an ideal situation the entire production workload would be replicated. However, in reality businesses have to accommodate their budget and prioritise critical systems that cannot tolerate downtime. It is also essential that the disaster recovery systems are kept up to date with the evolution of systems and services and has regular attention. This means regular testing. This can present a challenge, especially for businesses operating 24/7 as testing cannot disrupt normal operations.
Overall, when considering the cloud for disaster recovery it is critical that businesses work with a trusted provider with the expertise to design a disaster recovery plan that is specific – not only to the organisation’s needs but also addresses the service levels it has with its own customers. With the correct approach, disaster recovery in the cloud can be the perfect solution and often at a much lower cost point when compared to traditional models.