Considering the Cloud for Disaster Recovery

As the summer hurricane season begins, a lot of companies start looking at their current disaster recovery plans. For many IT organizations, the hurricane season brings with it sleepless nights, as IT staff start to wonder if they are really ready should disaster strike.

Consider these statistics – 93% of business that lose their data center for ten days or more go bankrupt within one year. Even more daunting, 43% of organizations that experience a disaster never reopen.

Cloud computing gives organizations the opportunity to rethink many traditional IT practices, and it may be a particularly good fit for disaster recovery and business continuity. Read on to learn more about how cloud computing can help address your disaster recovery worries.

What are the roles cloud can play in disaster recovery and business continuity?

The most basic answer is that data is stored offsite, in a secure data center, accessible from the internet. Cloud providers design data centers for the worst case scenario, with multiple failover options, including geo-redundancy. Most businesses simply can’t make the investments that public cloud providers do in the area of disaster recovery.

Most large organizations have a backup strategy, but it happens quite frequently that we encounter organizations that are simply not sending their data offsite, or to a location that is far enough away to avoid a disaster impacting a large geographic area. It is important to understand the potential regional issues that can occur (hurricane, earthquake, and power outage) and plan accordingly. Cloud technologies give most organizations the ability to operate from any location with internet access, drastically reducing the amount of time required to be back up and running in the event of a regional disaster.

Another key point is that the cloud gives companies the ability to store their disaster recovery and business continuity plans offsite. Surprisingly, a lot of organizations don’t think about this – it often happens that the business continuity plan is actually lost during a disaster. These plans are critical, but many organizations store both the plans and the recovery instructions in the local data center. This is almost completely useless if the data center is lost or inaccessible during a disaster. Storing the plans online gives the recovery team access from anywhere they can access the cloud.

Most large companies take disaster recovery very seriously and have very detailed plans in place. Even then, the cloud can offer many benefits. Using applications like Exchange Online or SharePoint Online can drastically reduce recovery times. Email is one of the most business critical applications for any organization, the loss of email for even a few hours can have a significant impact.

What about smaller companies? How can the cloud impact their disaster recovery efforts?

The cloud gives even the smallest companies the same capabilities that large organizations have had for years. Many smaller companies don’t have secondary data centers and are often backing up to tape. The tapes are often stored locally and no redundant hardware is readily available for recovery. By implementing public cloud solutions like Office 365, any organization can now have full redundancy for email, document storage, and even unified communications. Solutions like Azure allow for virtual networks and servers, eliminating the need for secondary data centers.

What about higher-end organizations that already have sophisticated plans in place? How does the cloud impact these businesses?

Even larger organizations with sophisticated disaster recovery plans can benefit from the cloud. The cloud can be beneficial from a financial perspective, as it can be very expensive to maintain redundant hardware and data centers. In addition, it’s much easier to complete a disaster recovery test. It is important to consider how the cloud integrates into the existing infrastructure. We often complete consulting engagements to create strategy and plans to integrate cloud technologies to existing infrastructure, both for production and disaster recovery purposes.

Are there situations where cloud technologies don’t make sense?

Every situation is unique. As part of our discovery process, we always develop an understanding of the existing infrastructure, regulatory requirements, as well as other concerns that might impact the ability to implement cloud technologies. In some cases, the cloud just doesn’t make sense. We do find that often unfounded concerns exist about security or regulatory controls. Our goal is always to make sure that the customer is comfortable with the cloud solution before beginning the implementation.



Would you like to find out more about Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity? Learn more how we can build a custom DR plan tailored to your organizations' unique IT operations.