Cloud Recovery Testing

Testing is essential, regardless of the type of disaster recovery solution an organization uses. The question is how to go about that testing.

You need the original data, an on-premises backup (for quick recovery) and an off-premises (cloud-based) copy; this helps you from saving your backups if the data center is destroyed.

If you use the cloud as an off-premises backup solution to supplement your on-premises backups, then it usually means that routine restorations will be made from the on-premises backups. This could be something as simple as a bad tape, but it may very well be something of the magnitude of having your data center destroyed. Hence, it is important to perform cloud recovery testing that simulates a real recovery following a catastrophe. It is recommended to do this testing from an isolated network segment, to not expose your production network to the recovery process. The reason for doing this is; firstly, you can make sure that the recovery testing does not interfere with the production network, and secondly, in case of a catastrophe, the resources on your production network wouldn’t exist.

The goal behind your first test is to determine what it actually takes to recover your data from the cloud. As the recovery process completes, you might discover that bandwidth limitations make it impossible to recover data from the cloud quickly enough to adhere to your service level agreements.

Internet access is a requirement, but, depending on how you have backed up and secured your data, there may be other requirements as well. For example, an organization may not be able to recover cloud data because they do not have the necessary digital certificates.

It is vitally important to find out if any external components that are required to facilitate a recovery (such as a certificate authority) before a disaster actually strikes.

After you confirm that you can recover data from the cloud, you have to performance the testing. When disaster strikes the organization’s customers will demand to know how long it will be before service is restored. The only way to know how long a recovery will take is to do benchmark testing.

During the benchmark recovery process, use a variety of data types, because cloud backups tend to rely heavily on deduplication. Deduplication helps to transmit data over the Internet more quickly. As such, you will likely find that some types of data can be restored much more quickly than others. Based on your benchmark testing results you can develop a plan for the order in which data should be restored in the event of a real emergency.

At times, recovery from the cloud is time-consuming. The next logical step is to look for ways to make the recovery process faster. Some cloud providers, for example, will ship you a copy of your data on tape or on a removable storage device in an effort to expedite the recovery process. You should check with your backup provider ahead of time to determine whether they offer such a service

You should make a point to work through a variety of disaster recovery scenarios. For example, you might start out by testing your ability to do bare metal recovery, but you should also test application-level recovery, file and folder recovery, and infrastructure recovery. As you work through the various recovery types, you should document the recovery procedures.

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