A disaster recovery strategy is vital to any business. Cloud DR can be used with many types of workloads, based either on-premises or in cloud environments. They’re an excellent alternative to traditional disaster recovery, which can be costly and challenging to implement and manage.
To deploy cloud DR, you can work with third-party data centres or public cloud providers. These store replicas of your critical workloads and systems to be used in the event of a disaster.
In this blog, we’ll explore:
- How cloud disaster recovery works
- The benefits and drawbacks of cloud disaster recovery solutions
- The types of cloud disaster recovery services
- How to implement cloud DR.
How Does Cloud Disaster Recovery Work?
The theory of cloud disaster recovery works much like traditional DR. Each aspect of your business workflow is replicated and saved elsewhere, providing a working copy of that workload should disaster strike.
In traditional DR, these copies would be saved in on-premises infrastructure. With cloud DR, they are saved offsite on cloud platform storage services.
Companies can choose to:
- Store data or virtual machine (VM) images in cloud storage, ready to download and implement in case of emergency. This is the simplest and cheapest method, but comes with the longest downtime.
- Run duplicate workloads in the cloud ready to deploy. This is the more expensive option, but with the highest uptime. With downtime costing the average business $1,410 per minute, this may still be a cost-effective option for many.
Due to its range of benefits, the cloud now plays a significant part in many organisations’ DR strategies. A Cloud DR plan may mix the above approaches, with high availability for vital workloads and simple storage for less critical ones.
Why is Cloud DR Important?
Around half of all companies experience system failure or outage each year. Of those, 41% struggle to back up all of their data, opening them up to complete data loss, financial damage, and potential data protection concerns.
On-site traditional DR can be costly to deploy, tricky to configure, and requires a skilled IT team to manage. Likewise, equipment must be maintained to prevent security concerns or downtime.
Cloud DR, on the other hand, is much more straightforward to deploy. It’s typically used on a pay-as-you-go basis, with data spread over multiple devices and locations. IT teams can also configure cloud DR from anywhere, streamlining workflows with automation and management apps.
As such, cloud disaster recovery can play a crucial role in a modern resilient multi-cloud strategy. It can also be employed in hybrid cloud setups, acting as a data backup for the private or public cloud aspects of your system.
Benefits of Cloud DR Solutions
The benefits of cloud DR include:
- Cost-savings: Cloud DR is much more cost-effective to implement than purchasing equipment for on-site DR. Your cloud DR service provider will also maintain the equipment, saving you from ongoing IT team costs.
- Business continuity: Cloud DR helps to keep downtime to a minimum. Its multi-location and multi-device nature also spreads the risk of failure, providing strong redundancy that minimises the chances of total data loss.
- Scalability: Your cloud DR solution can change and grow with you. Simply add more storage or new resources as needed.
- Recovery time objectives (RTO): You’ll agree an acceptable amount of time – RTO – that you could lose to downtime in the case of a disaster. This gives you peace of mind that systems will be back online within suitable timescales.
- Recovery point objectives (RPO): Likewise, you can agree a maximum amount of time between data backups. The RPO ensures that, even in the worst-case scenario, only a minimum amount of data would be lost.
- Service level agreements (SLA): Your RTO and RPO may form part of an overall SLA, guaranteeing you minimum standards to expect from your cloud DR system.
Together, these benefits combine to give your organisation massive peace of mind in a cost-effective and flexible way.
Drawbacks of Cloud DR
There are also some potential disadvantages of cloud DR that you should consider:
- Storage costs: In some cases – most likely when storing vast amounts of data – cloud storage can prove expensive month to month. However, it may still prove more cost-effective than purchasing and managing on-site data storage infrastructure.
- Network speeds: Data transfer can sometimes impact network speeds. Companies should take care that uploading to cloud data storage wouldn’t affect business processes.
- Latency: Likewise, companies that require real-time backups should work with a low-latency cloud provider.
- Cloud management: Finally, companies using multiple cloud DR strategies may lose a degree of control over their system. It’s essential that all cloud DR plans are well documented and managed.
Even with the potential drawbacks, cloud DR is likely to prove beneficial for the vast majority of companies.
What is the Difference Between Cloud DR and DRaaS?
Disaster recovery needs vary from company to company. Some need to keep costs low, while others may need real-time data backups or immediate availability.
As such, there are multiple ways of achieving cloud-based disaster recovery. Cloud DR and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) are two of them.
- Cloud DR includes some management, input and planning from the company. They may want to tune their cloud services or DR environment to achieve specific goals, for example. The key implication is that more aspects of DR are driven and handled by the company.
- Meanwhile, DRaaS involves working with a DR specialist company. They provide ready-made tools and on-demand platforms to configure and manage DR. Tools might include installed software that takes images of systems periodically, or continuous data backups. When needed, these services can failover backups onto live systems.
Typically, a cloud DR system is best for companies that want to manage their own DR cloud services. Costs may be lower than DRaaS platforms, and companies will have much more control over designing DR solutions that suit their business.
Meanwhile, DRaaS may be a better option for organisations without IT expertise. It’s typically simpler to implement and manage – leaving most tasks to the provider. However, it can be more expensive. DRaaS can also be quite inflexible, designed as a single tool which may not suit all business workflows.
Creating a Cloud-based Disaster Recovery Plan
Most cloud-based disaster recovery plans follow similar implementation steps.
A cloud disaster recovery plan begins with analysing your business needs. Think about your RTO, RPO and SLA requirements – what is important to your company?
Next, think about risk assessments and impact analysis for your current system. Try to identify what could go wrong, and where you feel your IT infrastructure is most vulnerable to disasters. Choose key providers to help you implement the system.
Then, you can begin to plan the rollout of your cloud DR system. Plan your responses to disasters, including detailed roles and responsibilities. Which parts might you want to automate, and which should be manual? How could they combine to recover the data needed within the required timescales?
Once you’ve designed your system, test it. Train key staff and implement the process with small, dummy workloads. Once the system is live, monitor for issues, continue to train staff and plan ongoing improvements.
How Interxion Can Help
Cloud DR helps ensure critical business continuity. It keeps backups and copies of key data storage, systems and workloads, ready to failover should the live system suffer a disaster. Above all, it brings resilience and peace of mind to customers, IT teams, and business owners.
At Interxion, our colocation data centres give you the tools to create a robust cloud DR environment for your business. Contact us today for more information, or visit our blog to learn more.