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THE MORE THINGS CHANGE… Taking Disaster Recovery to the Cloud

By David Barclay, National Practice Manager, Data#3 Limited

The drawbacks of traditional Disaster Recovery are well-recognised. Tape-based Disaster Recovery solutions that relied on offsite storage were time-consuming, and error-prone, not to mention expensive. For a long time, a full disaster recovery solution was only realistic for the largest of companies where the average cost-per-hour of being “offline” ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not something your average business could really consider.

It’s important to note at this point, that we’re talking about disaster recovery, not just backup. Backing up your data is a practice that is widely understood (even if some of us forget about it occasionally) and there are a myriad of backup options ranging from cheap and simple to extremely complex, depending on the needs of your business.

However, Disaster Recovery is more than just backup. It’s there for when your entire business infrastructure is lost – not just the data – and you need to get back up and running as quickly as possible. And like a lot of traditional business functions, disaster recovery has been transformed by the cloud and can now be delivered in “as-a-Service” form – DRaaS.

As trust in cloud-based services has grown, the balance of adoption has shifted in favour of DRaaS compared to traditional Disaster Recovery with an estimated 78.9%[1] of all Disaster Recovery now cloud-based. Many organisations have discovered that, beyond the potential for reductions in capital costs and IT complexity, DRaaS offers distinct advantages over traditional Disaster Recovery, particularly when considered as part of a suite of cloud solutions.

Nonetheless, for all that the cloud has changed how Disaster Recovery is implemented, the fundamentals of a robust Disaster Recovery response remain unchanged: organisations must plan for failure, and be prepared to test that plan so that when it’s needed, there is confidence that it will work.

Cloud Disaster Recover“THIS IS NOT A DRILL”

It’s the testing part of the Disaster Recovery equation that has sometimes been the Achilles Heel of Disaster Recovery. A full test of a Disaster Recovery solution is a difficult, time consuming exercise, yet without rigorous testing, there is no guarantee that the processes or metrics you’ve outlined in your Disaster Recovery strategy are achievable – and without adequate testing, you don’t really have a Disaster Recovery solution.

This is the key area where DRaaS – such as using VMware’s vCloud Air – has been able to deliver on a long-unfulfilled promise of Disaster Recovery; the ability to easily test, readily assess, and confirm your system’s capability to be restored to its original working state, through the process of failovers and failbacks.

With Multiple Point Recovery and custom Recovery Point Objectives, organisations now have:

  • greater flexibility to determine their requirements when planning for disaster,
  • greater self-serviceability around what to protect and when, and
  • more certainty that their strategies will serve them at that critical moment.

MORE THAN JUST DISASTER RECOVERY

DRaaS also adds to the wider strengths of cloud-based computing in general. The elastic nature of cloud technology means that, with the right planning, your DRaaS solution can become just one element of a greater, cohesive infrastructure. With a common cloud platform such as VMware’s vCloud Air, it can provide a business with numerous additional capabilities such as:

  • more scalable virtualisation options
  • more efficient backup, or
  • load driven, burst storage and compute efficiencies.

For many, the cloud continues to evolve towards a whole-of-business consideration and the rise of DRaaS represents another step in that journey.

Remember though that not all clouds are created equal so working with an experienced cloud solutions partner and investing time up front in planning can save a lot of pain down the track.

[1] https://softwarestrategiesblog.com/2015/12/22/five-key-take-aways-from-north-bridges-future-of-cloud-computing-survey-2015/

Tags: Cloud-based Disaster Recovery, Disaster Recovery, Disaster Recovery as a Service (Draas)

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