Why cloud DR pays off in a mission-critical IT world Posted on March 20, 2014 by Tim Burke Not so long ago, the best way to assure your organization would survive a major disruption involved building — and continuously paying for — a dedicated recovery site. Like so many early-generation IT solutions, this one was unaffordable for most smaller businesses. Happily, the very technologies that generate disruption-causing complexity (see my last post) also provide the kinds of cost-effective capabilities, such as real-time replication and managed disaster recovery services, that today’s heavily mission- and business-critical IT environments require. In fact, recent research indicates 72% of today’s IT systems are currently considered either mission- or business-critical, which accounts for why more than half of companies use replication for mission-critical systems, up from 35% in 2010. Recovery in the cloud Alternatives to owning your own recovery site include co-location, maintaining a fixed-site IT infrastructure at a service provider, managed hosting, and cloud services. Comparatively few businesses now opt for cloud-based disaster recovery options. But use of cloud based disaster recovery has increased almost fourfold between 2010 and 2013 — and for good reason: It’s highly secure and reliable. Here’s why: It’s fast. Cloud-connected DR leverages virtualization and automation technologies in a multi-tenancy model, which improves security, simplifies management, reduces hardware costs, and boosts recovery efficiency and accuracy. Your data and systems are fully accessible and recoverable 24/7/365 from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. It’s affordable. The usual benefits of cloud services apply here — you pay out of OpEx only for what you use, so you face little or no upfront CapEx (since you don’t need to duplicate your IT infrastructure offsite). It’s customizable. You decide the precise metrics — what data to back up, the RPOs and RTOs (recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives), etc. — that become part of your service-level agreement, and thus your service provider’s legal obligation. It keeps your business compliant. The same tools that simplify backup/recovery management help ensure regulatory compliance, since cloud-based backup/recovery services are designed to protect data during access and transmission as well as storage. It’s off-site. Cloud-connected DR located far from your primary (and secondary) sites means your critical systems and data won’t be impacted by disruption or disaster. Capability, control, and cost Of course, it’s important to pick the right cloud DR provider. Much of your decision will likely come down to finding the right mix of capability, control, and cost. You need to make sure your cloud DR vendor offers the capabilities you need (e.g., real-time replication) without forcing you to sacrifice the granular control over backup and recovery processes that is essential to your ability to sleep at night. And you need that balance between capability and control to stay affordable.