Disaster recovery initiatives get cloud boost

Cloud computing-based disaster recovery plans eliminate hardware cost and delays and likely to gain uptake, but some limitations exist, say Acclivis execs.

SINGAPORE--When disaster recovery (DR) efforts go the way of cloud computing, this brings greater cost effectiveness as well as more favorable service level agreements (SLAs) for customers to better ensure business continuity. However, it is not appropriate across all situations, note Acclivis executives.

Gabriel Tho, business director for business continuity at Acclivis, a Singapore IT services company, said that cloud-based disaster recovery plans offer two main benefits to customers--lower cost of entry and better SLAs. He was speaking to ZDNet Asia at sidelines during the opening of the company's SS507:2008-certified disaster recovery center here Wednesday.

The SS507:2008 certification is the latest iteration of the SS507 standard, which the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) had mandated for all business continuity or disaster recovery service providers.

Tho pointed out that companies in the region now have stronger awareness and knowledge on disaster recovery and its importance, due in part to events such as the Thai floods, the Japan earthquake and tsunami, the fire that broke out at Singapore's central business district, and the H1N1 flu pandemic.

As such, there is "huge potential" in cloud-based disaster recovery strategies, because it leverages resources more effectively than the traditional approach of backing up on physical equipment, he said. The latter method meant a compromise, companies either had to buy and manage expensive, premium-grade equipment themselves, or "suffer" the SLAs set by third-party service providers, the executive said.

In comparison, with cloud computing, companies which need to resume their business following a service disruption can do so easily, as all the data it needs is "stored in the air". This renders the need for hardware--and the cost of procuring these devices--a moot concern, he explained.

It also does away with unnecessary factors that may delay disaster recovery efforts such as time taken to activate the physical backup tapes and transporting these from the recovery center back to the office, he added.

As a result of this, DR service providers can offer better SLAs to customers in terms of recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO), he noted. RPO refers to how much data can be lost owing to a disaster, while RTO measures how long a system can be offline before it runs again.

Limitations exist
Tho did acknowledge that while cloud-driven disaster recovery plans allow customers to access corporate data from home or on-the-go when the company suffers a downtime, there are situations when this might not be applicable or appropriate.

"You can't always bring clients to McDonald's….the last thing companies want their clients to know is that they have a problem," he said.

Acclivis CEO Joshua Saw concurred. The executive, who was also at the launch, pointed out that despite the rise of remote working and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, some companies may not want their staff to access confidential or sensitive data over home networks or via their personal mobile devices.

Thus, besides a network operating center and service desk to provide round-the-clock technical support and monitoring services, its 25,000-square-feet DR facility also has a work area recovery center that serves as an alternative physical work location in which customers can utilize to resume their business operations in the event of disruptions, he said.

Saw expressed confidence that the trend of cloud-driven disaster recovery will continue to grow, now that costs for such offerings are falling.

"Cost has always been a factor that stopped companies from investing in disaster recovery in the first place," the CEO said. "With cloud and now the NGNBN (next-generation national broadband network) rollout here, there's both better affordability and connectivity."