Given that cloud technologies are more or less part of the established IT landscape today, it doesn’t take a huge leap to consider disaster recovery in the cloud.
On paper, disaster recovery in the cloud is a viable and sensible model. However, it probably wouldn’t work in all cases, such as organisations that have large data volumes, as data transfer could be problematic.
But that said, it can be an attractive option for some companies, especially those who are strapped for IT resources such as small and medium-sized organisations. Because the infrastructure is in a sense ‘parked’ for most of the time (that is it’s in the cloud) the cost is minimised. Cost savings are also made on data centre space, IT infrastructure and IT resources.
This makes it an almost perfect model for smaller companies who don’t have the resources of their larger enterprise cousins. However, like traditional disaster recovery, there isn’t a single blueprint for disaster recovery in the cloud and as such each plan needs to be specific to each organisation.
There are three distinct model options. An undoubtedly popular option is to put both primary production and disaster recovery into the cloud and have it handled by a managed services provider.
Another cloud disaster recovery option is to keep applications and data on-premise and back-up data into the cloud. Then data can be restored onto on-premises hardware if a disaster occurs. In this approach the back-up in the cloud becomes a substitute for tape-based off-site back-ups.
Back-ups and restores directly to the cloud is a third approach that can be taken. Rather than being restored to on-premises infrastructure it is restored to virtual machines in the cloud. There is also a model for those who require continuous data protection based on replication to cloud virtual machines. This can be used to protect both cloud and on-premises production.
Each model has its benefits and clearly the unique features of each company will determine the appropriateness of the model.
However, compliance is one area that all users would need to address, which ever model they choose. Data sitting on a server may be compliant but if it is off-site in a cloud data-centre it might not be. This is an issue that needs to be nailed.
Disaster recovery in the cloud can provide many benefits, especially for smaller companies, and as cloud technologies becoming increasingly accepted and ubiquitous it’s sure to become increasingly prominent.
A number of service providers are already offering disaster recovery in the cloud and the trend is expected to gather pace in the coming years. If you’re considering it, it’s worth keeping in mind that best practice should guide your decision making, just as it does for conventional disaster recovery. And because it’s a relatively big step you might want to take a step-by-step approach which ultimately results in evolving disaster recovery fully into the cloud.