Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery: A Simpler, Cost-Efficient Approach to DR

Disaster recovery (DR) is the number one workload that organizations plan to move to the cloud, according to a recent study from Zetta. Migrating DR to the cloud was a priority for 36 percent of IT professionals surveyed, ahead of file sharing and data backup (30 percent) and general data storage (29 percent). A cloud-based solution is a popular alternative to a traditional DR site, which is expensive and complicated to set up. Many organizations are reluctant to invest in DR site equipment that sits idle just in case a disaster occurs.

Cloud-based Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) can be far more cost-effective. Instead of purchasing and maintaining your own DR hardware, pay only for the services you use, and scale up or down as needed. Mission-critical data is stored in a cloud service provider’s data center, providing redundancy in terms of the data itself and the provider’s own DR strategy. A service level agreement (SLA) details requirements, expectations and pricing.

Of course, DRaaS is just one approach to cloud-based DR. Other options include cloud backup, which requires backup applications and appliances, and cloud replication, which requires replication software, cloud gateways and cloud storage software. With DRaaS, none of these tools need to be purchased, configured or monitored.

Failover and failback are critical to DRaaS. When IT systems go down, DRaaS provides continuity by automatically shifting workloads to a secondary site, where they can be accessed by users. Once systems are restored and the issue is resolved, workloads are automatically shifted back to their original location. Organizations can fail over data, applications, servers or virtual machine images and establish recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) for each type of workload depending on its importance.

Cloud-based DR is not a panacea. For example, it can take longer to restore data from the cloud than across a private WAN. You need to make sure you have adequate bandwidth to transfer data to the cloud and then recover that data should a disaster strike. You also need to make sure data is encrypted as it leaves the data center to meet security, governance and regulatory requirements.

The importance of the SLA cannot be overstated. As with any cloud service, you’re turning over a certain level of control to an outsider. The SLA will determine how quickly and reliably you can access your own business applications and data. It also explains how you’ll be reimbursed if RTOs and RPOs aren’t met and recovery from business disruption is delayed.

Although cloud-based DR is typically simpler to implement and manage than a traditional DR solution, significant planning and research are required. Depending on your IT environment, business requirements and volume of data, a traditional DR solution co-located in a state-of-the-art data center facility may be the better option.

Sequel Data Systems has been designing and managing DR solutions in the enterprise space for more than 30 years. Let us help you develop a DR solution that can ensure seamless operations in case of a disaster and determine the best implement model to meet your organization’s needs.