Disaster Recovery is your transitional Cloud step

The Cloud is a much feared entity but it shouldn't be. Fear of the Cloud can cost you a lot of money and can cost you a lot of money in downtime.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

A lot of individuals have transitioned to the Cloud by choice or by force but what about Enterprises? How will Enterprises transition to the Cloud? Disaster Recovery or DR will be the most likely route for businesses transitioning away from traditional methods. Not everyone is buying into this whole Cloud phenomenon nor is everyone taking it seriously. You should buy into it and take it seriously. The Cloud is here to stay. Long live the Cloud.

You don't have to take my word for it, though, but you should be able to read the handwriting on the wall, when a powerhouse like Apple embraces the Cloud for ultimate storage and disaster recovery. That's right, Apple's iCloud leverages Cloud storage to rid you of the need for iTunes and a tethered computer for your mobile devices.

But mobile is just the tip of the iceberg. I use Dropbox to backup all of my computer data for everyone in my house. I've also turned a lot of other people onto Dropbox for backup. It's far less painful to use than traditional backup methods and far less costly. For $9.99 per month, it's a load off my mind. Pricey? Yes, a little but the peace of mind is priceless so I cringe a bit every month at the price but smile when I think of what could happen if I didn't have the service. And, it's less expensive and less hassle than shuffling tapes or dealing with external drives that can be lost, stolen or forgotten.

My cloud-based storage is available where I am, where ever I am and on any device that I use: PC, phone, tablet, netbook or laptop. I can even use my files on someone else's system without installing any software or dealing with USB drives.

That's the double-edged sword of the Cloud. The price might seem high but your peace of mind is worth something. Isn't it? And, many times, the price is lower than non-cloud solutions.

But, the answer to the, "Does it make financial sense for my business?" question lies in the cost of your current DR solution.

My guess is that it's many times the cost of a cloud-based one. And, what sort of guarantee do you have with your current DR solution? Sure, you have an SLA and some sort of plan but what assurance do you have that you will have your DR solution available, when you need it? If three nines is good enough, then you're in the clear. If 100% is what you need, then a solution that includes something a little cloudier is better.

And, before you quote some Amazon.com outage to me as evidence against the Cloud, let me explain something to you. If you experienced an outage with Amazon's service, it's your own fault. Amazon tells you that you should spread your systems geographically. If you don't, or didn't, that's your problem, not theirs.

If you're unsure about the Cloud, then DR is a great transitional step into gaining trust in it as a primary data storage system. If you're betting that you might never have to rely on your DR plan, except once a year during DR drills (you do them don't you?), then you should see the Cloud as a very inexpensive alternative to your current plan. The Cloud, by its very nature, is inexpensive by comparison. That's its whole purpose: to provide 100% uptime at a very low cost.

Cloud computing need not be met with fear or trepidation. Rather, you should explore it with curiosity and hope that it can lower your costs and mobilize your workforce to a much higher degree.

For a moment, think about the freedom of having your DR site in the Cloud. If your primary site (your data center or your leased data center space) somehow became unavailable, what would you do? You'd have to rely on your DR plan. How good is your current plan? How well did your last failover drill go?

Now, replace that DR plan with a cloud-based one. How much better did the new plan work for you?

And, before you answer, consider every aspect of the transition from primary to DR: Actual costs in time to make the transition, labor hours, level of effort and MTTR. If your more expensive solution worked better, you will have to ask yourself, "Is it worth the extra cost?" I don't gamble but I'm betting that the cloud-based DR transition required less time, less effort, fewer hours, less effort and a shorter MTTR.

If I'm wrong, let me know and send me a copy of your case study as proof.

If a cloud-based DR solution isn't in your plan for 2012, you need to rethink your plan and your budget now before you lock into something for another year. Saving money is a big deal for your organization as it could mean lost jobs or an unfriendly shareholder's meeting.

Find out what the Cloud can do for you and maybe you won't have to polish up that resume for a while longer. The Cloud can seem like an unknown but if you select your Cloud vendor wisely, you can benefit greatly from the migration to it.

Talk back and let me know how well your transition to the Cloud went. Or, if it didn't, tell me why.

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