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Can You Trust Disaster Recovery in the Cloud?

Can You Trust Disaster Recovery in the Cloud?
With most services going to the cloud these days, more and more people are researching whether or not disaster recovery (DR) in the cloud is a viable and safe option for their data. When it comes to something as important as your business’ disaster recovery plan, there are a lot of options to weigh and a lot of factors to consider. Cloud services are still pretty new and just like when the newest, fastest car series comes out, you need to do your due diligence and make sure you’re asking the right questions. 
Any way you slice it, disaster recovery is an investment and usually not a cheap one. While it is common disaster recovery practice to re-create your IT environment off site in case of a disaster, it can become frustrating when considering how much of your budget goes toward this redundant set up when it is rarely used and not contributing much to everyday operations. (Of course when it IS used, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars and would gladly have paid double… but that’s for a different article!). Now, the newest option for DR is cloud-based disaster recovery, also known as DR-as-a-service (DRaaS).

Pros of Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Many are interested in DR in the cloud because of the upfront money saved. You get to avoid buying all of the hardware and software needed to create the traditional redundant IT infrastructure which is a great draw for many companies. Instead, you subscribe to a third-party cloud service and pay monthly for storing your duplicate copies of data and applications in the cloud.
Another draw is that you only pay for what you need and when you need it as some data is more important and needs to be backed up more regularly than other. DR in the cloud also offers shorter RPO (recovery point objective) which is what point in time you can restore your data from in case of a disaster and RTO (return time objective) which is how long it will take before your critical applications are up and running normally.
DRaaS comes with a service-level agreement which includes regular testing which is a huge draw for IT Managers. In most businesses, regular testing is rarely done because of the disruption it can cause to daily operations. 

Cons of Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Just like the new car series, it’s always risky to buy the first model. Standards are still being figured out and your years of network intricacies may not easily translate to a cloud model. Something else that you need to be comfortable is how your data will be protected and kept private as it is being transferred to and from the recovery site along with how it is protected while being housed in the cloud.
Because the service is so new, industry standards have not yet been established which means you could be paying more than you could imagine when you’re in crisis mode. Some providers charge according to the number of VMs (virtual machines) being protected while another may charge based on the number of processors.
Another thing to research is whether your cloud provider will be able to accommodate all of their customers at once if a disaster should strike them all at the same time. Many cloud providers oversubscribe their services with the notion that it is highly unlikely that all customers should be in disaster recovery mode at once… but we all know that stranger things have happened. It’s a question worth asking at the very least. 
Finally, DRaaS is not a “sign up and forget about it” solution. IT Managers still need to be sure internal testing is being done regularly and that all co-workers are properly set up and maintained for adequate protection.

At the End of the Day…

…disaster recovery in the cloud is still in its early stages of development. In the near future, there will be more rules and regulations in place and you’ll have more access to the information needed to make the right choice for your business. According to a University of Texas study, “94% of companies suffering from catastrophic data loss do not survive -- of those, 43% never reopen -- the remaining 51% close within 2 years.” Having a great disaster recovery system in place for your business has more than most imagine riding on it.


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