Cloud | 02.27.2018

Does Your Disaster Recovery Belong in the Cloud?

Planning around disaster recovery (DR) has come a long way. With increasing reliance on cloud services for their day-to-day operations, more businesses are finding these same technologies can help them create better DR plans, too. Traditional strategies—typically built around hardware installed at a remote location—may no longer be the best approach. And as more companies adopt a cloud-only environment for many of their key platforms, it’s wise to look ahead and consider if your DR belongs in the cloud.

The Lowdown on DR

The statistics continue to highlight a somewhat surprising lack of action when it comes to preparing for emergencies. In an online study conducted on behalf of insurer Nationwide, 68 percent of small business owners reported having no written disaster recovery plan. That figure is dismaying by itself, but even more worrisome is that 49 percent of respondents said it would take their business at least three months to recover from a natural disaster. It’s debatable whether most small firms could survive an entire quarter on hiatus, or whether their doors would be shuttered forever. Larger companies may stand a better chance of remaining financially viable after such an event, but the staggering loss of revenue that can occur when services are down should still make IT folks and executive teams sit up and take notice.

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Why Now is the Time to Prioritize DR

As Mythbusters co-host Adam Savage often said, “Failure is ALWAYS an option.” That’s certainly true for today’s companies, where—large, small and everywhere in between—data and digital connections underpin nearly every task and transaction. Disasters also come in many shapes and sizes, and all of them have the potential to interrupt operations. Even a simple power outage down the street could severely impact your ability to do business. Whether it’s processing incoming orders, answering customers’ questions or shipping products out to buyers, few companies can tolerate the loss of revenue that follows the smallest disaster.

Less Expense, More Availability

Cost is a primary factor for many businesses as they consider the best design for their DR strategy. Fortunately, solutions built around cloud technology are far less expensive than their hardware-based brethren, making robust DR capabilities available to even very small businesses.

Conventional DR plans often involve securing physical space where the existing data center can be replicated. These assets—servers, racks, UPS systems—sit idle when not in use, even though the company must still pay to maintain them. The real estate itself costs money, but there are other expenses, too: utilities, capital expenditures around hardware purchases, fees to cover ongoing maintenance and support, plus staff resources to monitor the network’s status and ensure the mirror site is ready to go live at all times. It adds up to more money than most companies want to spend.

If this setup is moved to the cloud, however, the costs drop significantly. Capital outlays and recurring expenses go down, without diminishing the business’s ability to quickly spin everything up in case of an emergency. A cloud-based DR strategy consumes fewer internal resources, too, since the cloud provider often handles the necessary monitoring and may even manage activation of the DR site if an interruption occurs at the client’s primary location.

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Improved Failover Testing and Performance

In addition to the monetary benefits that come with shifting DR to the cloud, there are also some unexpected boosts from the move. It’s difficult—expensive, time consuming and very often disruptive—to conduct the kind of testing necessary to wring out potential gaps in a DR plan when everything resides on hardware that must be manually maintained and activated. Cloud solutions, on the other hand, are designed to manage these issues automatically. Security patches and application upgrades are deployed as they are released, so you know your failover site is always in sync with your primary site. A DR strategy built in the cloud can also help you identify vulnerabilities while giving you the ability to conduct routine testing without impacting operations. In an emergency, you’ll know your DR plan is ready to function without any surprises, and your leadership team will know they can continue to do business.

Lower costs, faster recovery and better availability. Isn’t it time you consider moving your DR to the cloud?