Disaster recovery in the cloud is a relatively new concept, and like many technological trends, there is a lot of hype and misinformation out there. You will come to know about security and data recovery, and whether disaster recovery in the cloud is a good choice for your organization.Cloud computing, along with mobile devices and tablets, has contributed to a lot of high-tech buzz lately. But when it comes to hype, clouds seem to absorb more than a fair share, which has unintended consequences from sometimes overshadowing actual utility.
Although the concepts – and some products and services – cloud-based disaster recovery are still just born, several companies, especially SMEs, discovered and began to use cloud services for DR. This can be an attractive alternative for companies that may lack IT resources because the cost of using cloud-based services is suitable for the DR where secondary infrastructure is parked and idling most of the time. DR sites will reduces the need for data center space, IT infrastructure and IT resources, which leads to significant cost reductions, enabling smaller companies to deploy disaster recovery options that were previously only found in larger companies.
But disaster recovery in the cloud is not a perfect solution, and the shortcomings and challenges need to be clearly understood before the company explores it. Security is usually top of the list of concerns.
Are data transferred securely and stored in the cloud?
How are users authenticated?
Is the password the only choice or does the cloud provider offer several types of two-factor authentication?
Does the cloud provider meet regulatory requirements?
And because cloud is accessed through the Internet, bandwidth requirements also need to be clearly understood. There is only the risk of planning for bandwidth requirements to move data to the cloud without adequate analysis of how to make data accessible when a disaster occurs.
Do you have bandwidth and network capacity to direct all users to the cloud?
If you plan to restore from the cloud to the infrastructure in place, how long is the recovery time?
“If you use cloud-based backups as part of your DR, you need to design a backup set for recovery,” said Chander Kant, CEO and founder of Zmanda Inc., a cloud backup service provider and open source backup application.
The reliability of the cloud provider, its availability, and its ability to service your users when a disaster is happening are other key considerations. The choice of a cloud service provider or managed service provider (MSP) that can provide services in agreed terms is very important, and when making the wrong choice might not make you fall into IT hell, it can easily put you in a dog house or even get you’re fired.
Designing disaster recovery in cloud blueprint
Just like traditional DR, there is no single blueprint for disaster recovery in the cloud. Every company is unique in the application it runs, and the application’s relevance to its business and industry. Therefore, the cloud disaster recovery plan (aka DR blueprint) is very specific and typical for each organization.
Identifying important resources and recovery methods is the most relevant aspect during this process, because you need to ensure that all important applications and data are included in your blueprint. In the same way, to control costs and ensure a quick and focused recovery when the plan needs to be run, you want to make sure to leave the application and data irrelevant. The more focused the DR plan is, the more likely it is that you will be able to test it regularly and carry it out in the intended purpose.
Disaster recovery in cloud options
Application managed and managed by DR. An increasingly popular choice is to place both primary production and examples of disaster recovery into the cloud and both handled by managed service providers (MSP). By doing this, you reap all the benefits of cloud computing, from usage-based costs to eliminating on-site infrastructure. Instead of doing it yourself, you delay the DR to the cloud or the managed service provider. The choice of service providers and the appropriate service level agreement (SLA) negotiation process is the most important. By giving up control to the service provider, you must be absolutely sure that it can provide uninterrupted service in the SLA set for primary instances and DR.
Pure cloud games are becoming increasingly popular for e-mail and several other business applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM), where Salesforce.com has become a pioneer and now leads the cloud-based CRM market.
Backup and restore from cloud. Applications and data remain in place in this approach, with data supported to the cloud and returned to the hardware in the place when the disaster occurred. In other words, backup in the cloud is a substitute for tape-based off-site backup.
When contemplating cloud backup and recovery, it is important to clearly understand both the backup and the more problematic aspects of recovery. Backing up to the cloud is relatively easy, and backup application vendors have expanded the backup package with the option to directly back up to popular cloud service providers such as Amazon,AT & T, Microsoft Corp, and Rackspace. Similarly, cloud gateways such as Cloudoin Cirtas Cloud Storage Controller, F5 ARX Cloud Extender, Nasuni Filer, Whitewater River, and TwinStrata CloudArray, can be used to move data to the cloud. They straddle local and cloud storage and store data and data in locations in synchronous clouds.
Back up and return to the cloud. In this approach, data is not returned to the infrastructure in place, instead, it is returned to the virtual machine in the cloud. This requires cloud storage and cloud computing resources, such as the Compute Cloud Cloud from Amazon (EC2). Recovery can be done when a disaster is declared or in a sustainable manner (pre-phased). The DR pre-staging VMs and keeping them up-to-date through scheduled recovery is very important in cases where aggressive RTOs must be met. Some cloud service providers facilitate raising virtual cloud machines as part of their DR offer. “Some cloud service providers use our products for secure deduplication and to deliver virtual servers in the cloud,” said Chris Poelker, VP solutions company at FalconStor Software.
Replication to virtual machines in the cloud. For applications that require aggressive recovery time and recovery point (RPO) goals, as well as application awareness, replication is the preferred data movement option. Replication to virtual cloud machines can be used to protect the cloud and production instances in place.