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Find Out if You’re Leveraging the Cloud Effectively in DR Planning

Most business leaders recognize the need to create a disaster recovery plan, but it rarely ever gets prioritized until it’s too late. With virtualization, DR planning has become much more feasible and affordable, allowing smaller and midmarket organizations the opportunity to have the same kinds of failsafe backup and recovery plans as their larger competitors. The growing trend towards utilizing cloud technologies in disaster recovery definitely has its advantages, but there are a number of things to consider before implementing a cloud-based strategy. To help determine the appropriate DR solutions for your organization, start by asking these three questions:

Question No. 1: Will cloud-based DR allow us to meet our RTO and RPO?

In a disaster situation the RTO, or Recovery Time Objective, is the maximum amount of time critical functions can be down before there is a significant negative impact on the business. The Recovery Point Objective, or RPO, is the point in time by which a company needs to restore to maintain business operations. Together these parameters dictate the kinds of DR solutions that are viable. For instance, recovering data from the cloud might not be a feasible option for an organization with very tight recovery objectives (like an airline or bank) because there simply isn’t the bandwidth to restore enormous amounts of data in a short period of time. For another company with a significantly longer RTO (like a fence rental company), utilizing cloud technologies can provide an effective, affordable DR solutions.

Question No. 2: How is data being replicated for disaster recovery?

All DR involves replication—copying data from the primary location to a secondary site across a network. Contrary to the traditional method of backing up data to tapes or discs, replication allows data to be made rapidly available at the secondary site. In synchronous replication, any data that is written to the primary site is simultaneously written to the secondary site. However, this type of replication poses serious drawbacks for DR because it is costly and has the potential for performance issues at the local site. Asynchronous replication works by writing data first to the primary site and then to the secondary target, resulting in a delay between storage sites (anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours). It’s more suitable for long-distance replication and involves less bandwidth, generally making it more suited to disaster recovery than synchronous replication. Additionally, with deduplication and compression, business leaders now have options for faster, cheaper ways to store information in the cloud that can then be recovered in the event of a disaster.

Question No. 3: Are we using the right cloud software to optimize DR capabilities?

The goal in disaster recovery is simple: minimize disruption by restoring data and critical business functions at a secondary site as quickly as possible. The best way to leverage cloud-based technologies in these scenarios will depend on what the key systems, users, and business-critical functions are. Once these are identified, choosing the right software or backup technologies to use in cloud-based DR is fairly simple. The backup software is ultimately what’s going to dictate DR performance, so it’s important to understand the features, functionality, and support that different options provide. Pairing the right software with the right virtual machines leads to a faster data-recovery time, allowing services to be restored as quickly as possible following a disastrous event.

The decision to utilize cloud technologies for DR isn’t for everyone. There are a number of reasons why organizations might shy away from the cloud as part of the DR plan — security concerns, data sovereignty, long-term archival requirements, reliability, or performance issues. However, these concerns are becoming increasingly alleviated as cloud technologies advance and more cloud-based options become available. For business leaders who recognize the need to prioritize DR, an experienced and trustworthy cloud partner can help guide decision-making in choosing the right cloud-based solutions.