How the Cloud is Changing Disaster Recovery
Anyone who is a regular reader of this site will know about the cloud’s numerous benefits. Using the cloud can provide businesses with cost-effective resource usage, rapid provisioning, easy scalability and flexible elasticity – benefits that simply don’t exist when using local on-site servers and services.
One of the more overlooked benefits, however, is the changes it has brought to companies’ disaster recovery plans.
The importance of a good quality disaster recovery plan cannot be underestimated. We recently published an infographic in which we noted that “only 6% of businesses that experience downtime without a plan will survive long term” and “less than half of all businesses that experience a disaster are likely to reopen their doors”.
A recent survey by Quorum found a long list of reasons that could cause a disaster recovery plan to be activated. While respondent’s perceived reasons (34 percent thought natural disasters were the most likely reason, followed by human error at 25 percent, software error or maintenance at 22 percent and hardware failure at 20 percent) differed considerable from the reality (55 percent hardware failure, 22 percent human error, 18 percent software failure, and 5 percent natural disasters) – the truth is that all of the risks mentioned can pose a serious threat to a company’s mission-critical business tasks.
Before the widespread adoption of cloud computing, disaster recovery used to imply backing up to either tape or disk. There are clear drawbacks to this method; setting it up can be complex and it may be difficult to recover entire distributed, multi-tier, multi-site workloads. Furthermore, disks are not easily scalable, are not easily portable, and are not necessarily secure.
Thankfully, the cloud has revolutionised the industry. By using virtualisation the entire server– including the operating system, applications, patches and data – is encapsulated into a single software bundle or virtual server. This entire virtual server can be copied or backed up to an offsite data centre and launched on a virtual host in a matter of minutes. It means the cloud can offer faster recovery times and multi-site availability at a fraction of the cost of conventional disaster recovery.
Additionally, because virtual servers are hardware independent, data can be easily and quickly transferred between data centres without needing to reload each component of the server. This can further improve recovery times compared to traditional disaster recovery approaches in which servers need to be loaded with the correct operating system and application software before being patched to the last configuration used before any data can be restored.
There are also non-technical benefits to cloud-based disaster recovery. For example, businesses will be able to take advantage of the improved data protection that the cloud offers as well as benefitting from lower energy consumption thanks to the removal of large on-site server rooms.
Does your company have a disaster recovery plan? Does it use traditional media or the cloud? Let us know in the comments below.
By Daniel Price
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