Disaster Readiness and Recovery in the Cloud
IT organizations have started to use cloud computing as a way to support disaster recovery (DR) processes. Whether your IT environment is moving completely or partially to a cloud-based solution, there are many points to consider when leveraging the cloud for disaster readiness and recovery.
Why Rely on the Cloud?
In the past, companies had to rely on themselves, and their own physical data centers, for secure storage, fault tolerance and DR. Often, these in-house data centers could achieve fault tolerance, but quality disaster recovery was unaffordable or otherwise difficult to obtain.
The cloud gives organizations an affordable option for improved fault tolerance and DR. In fact, by leveraging cloud-based storage and backup, even the smallest of organizations have the ability to "act like the big boys," and obtain enterprise-like functionality without the heavy financial investment.
And if you are one of the big boys, cloud storage is still a viable option. For example, if your organization has multiple data centers, in many cases a cloud service offering can be a cheaper—and more effective—alternative. See Perry Szarka's post on data center colocation for more details on this type of option.
The important thing to remember is that if you do make a move to the cloud, you need to be crystal clear in regard to the type of storage, fault tolerance and DR services your hosting provider offers. Make sure that your provider has solid processes and promise detailed in its service-level agreement (SLA).
Following are key considerations and questions to ask potential providers.
Ensure Disaster Recovery Processes
Collocation Concerns: What data will be where? Consider both the physical security and server environment. Will data be housed in its own stack, or under a multi-tenant profile?
Cloud Redundancies & Capabilities: What does the provider promise in terms of uptime, backup, availability and recoverability? Are there certain priority workloads that should have more focus in the event of a disaster or downtime?
Detailed SLAs: Clearly defined contracts and SLAs should not skimp on security or recovery. Ask:
- Does your contract list a dedicated piece of hardware with hypervisors and shared infrastructure?
- What does the provider do to guarantee data security in a virtual world? How is data segmented and firewalled?
Testing & Reporting: Don’t wait for a real disaster to make sure your cloud-based solution is engineered to perform well when downtime strikes. Periodic testing and evaluation can only make your disaster recovery process stronger. Work with a provider who proactively tests its failure plans and delivers well-documented reporting.
For more considerations in regard to DR in the cloud, read this Search Cloud Security article, Cloud Computing Disaster Recovery: Best Practices for DR in the Cloud.
Like any technology solution, you are bound to experience downtime and implement disaster readiness and recovery processes at some point, at some level. Knowing what to assess within your own IT environment, and that of your cloud provider, can help your organization use the cloud to improve backup and disaster solutions.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced with DR planning in the cloud?
Andy Jones is Senior Vice President of Sales. He has more than 15 years of IT industry experience, and is an expert on cloud, virtualization and managed services solutions. Connect with Andy on LinkedIn.
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Image credit: GlenBledsoe