Recovery Plans in the Clouds
Several business organizations, in these days, do not possess enough disaster recovery (DR) protection for all their business files and applications. In many circumstances, recovery plans in the clouds are considered to be very complex, expensive as well as unreliable, especially for those applications that are mission critical. Disaster recovery is basically something like an insurance used to protect the various IT assets of your company, in the event of a disaster. The best disaster recovery plan should offer complete protection to your important business files and applications, with minimum difficulties, and at as low cost as possible.
Though the idea of recovery plans in the clouds, in addition to some of its products and other services, is still developing, some organizations, especially Small and Mid-size Business (SMB) organizations, are starting to uncover and enjoy the benefits offered by cloud services for disaster recovery. This can also be an excellent alternative to those business organizations that would otherwise require more effective IT resources and infrastructure, as cloud services basically charge only based on the usage of space which is well suited for disaster recovery. Containing sites for disaster recovery in the cloud usually brings down the need for IT resources and IT infrastructure and space for data center, which results in considerable amounts of cost reduction, thus enabling even smaller and medium-sized companies to set up recovery plans in the clouds, which was possible only by large enterprises in the past.
Concerns about Recovery Plans in the Clouds
As with any other service, disaster recovery plans in the clouds cannot always be the perfect solution. Hence, an organization should first comprehend the challenges and downfalls associated with implementing disaster recovery plans in the clouds before actually venturing into it. And the primary concern that tops the list is security. Remember to obtain answers for the following questions before transferring your DR to the clouds:
- Are your valuable business data transferred and stored securely in the cloud?
- What types of authentication techniques are used?
- Does the cloud service provider you choose to sign up with, meets regulatory requirements?
- Are passwords the only authentication techniques or the cloud service provider has additional layered protection as well?
In addition to checking these requirements, you should also check with bandwidth requirements, as access to the clouds is usually by way of the internet. Also, in some situations, you might only plan for the requirements of bandwidth to transfer your business data to the cloud, without analyzing sufficiently the ways in which your data can be accessed in the event of a disaster. In such cases, you will have to find answers for the following questions:
- Do you own the adequate network capacity and bandwidth in order to deflect users towards the cloud?
- How long will the restoration process take, if you wish to restore the files and applications back to your IT infrastructure?
Some other very important considerations include the availability and reliability of the cloud service provider, in addition to their ability to serve your organization during a disaster. The cloud storage provider you choose should also deliver services by agreeing to all the necessary terms and conditions.
The Cloud Blueprint
As with any conventional disaster recovery plan, the recovery plans in the clouds also require a blueprint. However, in this case, it is not a single blueprint. Every organization runs different types of applications, and also the pertinence of those applications to the organization’s business and the industry in which it operates differ. Due to this reason, a cloud disaster recovery blueprint is absolutely distinctive and specific for each business organization. The process of coming up with a disaster recovery plan begins with determining and planning out data, services and applications, and identifying the acceptable downtime for each one of these, before the disaster leaves behind a significant impact.
Determining the crucial resources and the methods for their recovery, if a disaster strikes, is one of the most pertinent visible features of this process. This is for you to make sure that all your critical business data and applications are included in the disaster recovery blueprint. At the same time, you will have to leave behind unnecessary and irrelevant data and applications in order to reduce associated costs as well as to enable fast and focused recovery of all other important data and applications. A more converging disaster recovery plan or blueprint will enable you to examine it on a periodic basis and also to implement it according to the construed objectives.
Options for Recovery Plans in the Clouds
Business organizations can choose from a wide array of disaster recovery types, some of which are described below:
- Backup and restoration from the cloud: In this approach, all your critical business data and applications remain on your office premises. However, a backup copy of all the data will be stored on the cloud, which can be restored on a hardware device in the premises after the occurrence of a disaster. In simple words, the backup stored in the cloud acts as a substitute for all your crucial business data.
- Managed applications: Placing both the primary production as well as the disaster recovery copies of data and applications in the cloud and having them managed by a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is becoming one of the most widely used methods in recent years. By following this technique, you will be able to enjoy all the benefits cloud storage has to offer, right from eliminating the need for onsite IT infrastructure to paying costs only based on the amount of space used.
In addition to the above mentioned primary options for recovery plans in the clouds, there are two other options that include: backup and restoration to the cloud, and copying to virtual machines present in the cloud.