Cloud computing accounts for much of the high-tech buzz these days. The concept and some of the products and services of cloud-based disaster recovery are still nascent. SMBs are discovering and starting to influence cloud services for Disaster Recovery (DR). The usage-based cost of cloud services is well suited for DR where the secondary infrastructure is parked and idle for most of the time. DR sites in the cloud reduces the need for data center space, IT infrastructure and IT resources, which leads to significant cost reductions, enabling smaller companies to deploy DR options that were previously only found in larger enterprises.
However, DR in the cloud isn’t a perfect solution, and its shortcomings and challenges need to be clearly understood before a company ventures into it. Security usually tops the list of concerns:
- Is data securely transferred and stored in the cloud?
- How are users authenticated?
- Are passwords the only option or does the cloud provider offer some type of two-factor authentication?
- Does the cloud provider meet regulatory requirements?
As Clouds are accessed via the Internet, the bandwidth requirements also need to be clearly understood. The company should analyze the risk involved while planning for bandwidth requirements to move data into the cloud. The company should have solutions to make the data accessible when a below mentioned disaster strikes:
- Do we have the bandwidth and network capacity to redirect all users to the cloud?
- If we plan to restore from the cloud to on-premises infrastructure, how long will that restore take?
If you use cloud-based backups as part of your DR, you need to design your backup sets for recovery. Reliability of the cloud provider, its availability and its ability to serve your users while a disaster is in progress are other key considerations.
Cloud-Disaster Recovery plan or Cloud Disaster Recovery Blue-print
There isn’t a single blueprint for Disaster Recovery in the cloud. Every company is unique in the applications it runs, and the relevance of the applications to its business and the industry it’s in. Therefore, a cloud disaster recovery blueprint is very specific and distinctive for each organization.
Triage is the principal used to derive traditional as well as cloud-based DR plans. In a DR plan the company has to first identify and prioritize applications, services and data, and for each entity determine the acceptable downtime before there’s a significant business impact. Further, priority and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) will then determine the disaster recovery approach.
Identifying critical resources and recovery methods is the most relevant aspect during this process, since you need to ensure that all critical apps and data are included in your blueprint. To control costs and ensure speedy and focused recovery when the plan needs to be executed, you have to make sure to leave out irrelevant applications and data. The more focused a DR plan is, the more likely you’ll be able to test it over-time and execute it within the defined objectives.
When you identify and prioritize the applications, and define the RTOs, you can then determine the finest and most cost-effective methods of achieving the RTOs, which needs to be done by application and service. In the rarest of cases, you’ll have a single DR method for all your applications and data; more likely you’ll end up with several methods that protect clusters of applications and data with similar RTOs.