Companies today depend on continuous uptime. Outages, whether they occur due to natural disasters or (more commonly) from operational mistakes, software problems, or hardware failures, are nearly impossible to avoid. Building an effective disaster recovery (DR) solution and business continuity (BC) plan is crucial for preventing lost revenue and maintaining buyer confidence.
Traditional DR strategies required complex maintenance and cost-intensive solutions that were out of reach for most small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). However, the scalable agility of cloud computing has altered that dynamic. Companies regardless of size are now able to develop, introduce, and sustain workable DR/BC plans that meet their specific recovery time and point objectives without the high costs.
Before leveraging cloud solutions, businesses must plan effectively to ensure that the DR/BC strategy created will meet their financial and operational goals. Knowing which cloud options are available and the key aspects that should be considered will make the task easier.
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
There is no single blueprint for building an effective cloud-based DR/BC solution. Because each organization apportions relevant applications and mission critical tasks differently, has their own uniquely developed infrastructure, and determines outage significance individually, DR priorities vary.
There are some basic options available with cloud recovery:
- Total Managed Service—This involves moving all production and recovery to the cloud. The cost benefits from eliminating on premise infrastructure and employing a managed service provider are attractive to many businesses, especially those that rely heavily on their customer relationship management (CRM) applications. However, service level agreement parameters for this option require extreme attention to ensure continuous uptime.
- Cloud Backup (Off-premise)—This solution is essentially a substitute for tape-based backups. Data is continually moved to the cloud, but recovery times are dependent on bandwidth, which can be tricky with large amounts of data.
- Hybrid Options—These options allow businesses to achieve aggressive recovery point objectives through replication to virtual machines (VM) in the cloud. This is effective for protecting both cloud-based applications and on-premise production.
Key Aspects to Consider
To determine the most effective cloud DR option, companies should consider their specific needs. Usage-based costing allows organizations to maximize their DR/BC plan, so the selection should be based on the following key elements:
- Automation—The level of automation available plays a significant role in realizing the deployment, testing, and DR objectives envisioned. It is essential for instituting reliable, predicable recovery points and times.
- Testing—Enhanced automation enables effective, frequent testing, which is the area where most recovery plans fall short. Even the best laid plans won’t provide results unless they are regularly tested for dependability and consistency.
- Unified Management—With any cloud-based DR/BC plan, a unified infrastructure will reduce recovery times and efforts. Look for a provider who is able to deliver a comprehensive strategy that combines on-premise and cloud applications as a unified conglomeration.
- Business Continuity—Companies need to ensure that operations can continue without interruption until on-premise applications are back online, and should make sure that the cloud can be leveraged for as long as needed.
Cloud computing greatly extends DR options by offering low-cost, effective alternatives to traditional solutions. With the right planning, testing, and management protocols, any size organization can develop an effective strategy that delivers continuous uptime.