What is it about the cloud that makes it so well suited for disaster recovery?
Organizations using the cloud for disaster recovery don't have to go to the expense of setting up a duplicate data center — not to mention, one that sits idle most of the time, waiting for a disaster. Companies that do decide to go this route can either set up the duplicate data center on their own, or through a specialized third-party datacenter or co-location facility that hosts multiple subscribers.
While the third-party approach means the organization isn't responsible for maintaining the second data center, it also means the systems may be shared with other organizations in the event of a regional disaster. Other disadvantages are that it can be difficult to maintain hardware compatibility.
But using cloud-based disaster recovery is even more attractive economically because it doesn't require a huge up-front capital investment.
Using the cloud also means that organizations can respond more quickly to a disaster, sometimes in as little as a matter of minutes. In fact, companies can actually recover from a disaster within the cloud itself, using cloud orchestration and automation tools to automate the in-cloud recovery process from end to end.
Without such automated tools, recovering from a disaster means scripts, as well as manual administration and intervention — all of which means that IT can't meet critical recovery service level agreements. When a true disaster occurs, many businesses may find implementing their disaster recovery solution takes longer than they expected — at best. At worst, organizations may find that their data is not recoverable in the way they thought.
Recovering from a disaster within the cloud also means that organizations don't need to take the time, processing, and cost associated with recovering everything from the cloud to on-premises. That way, recovery can be limited to critical data, further reducing costs.
Finally, organizations that choose the cloud for their disaster recovery solution don't have to pick a location for a disaster recovery facility and cross their fingers hoping that it, too, doesn't end up stricken by a disaster. Many companies struck by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, or even thunderstorms that same year, found that their disaster recovery facilities were in the path of the same storm. With the cloud, disaster recovery facilities can quickly and easily
be moved to different parts of the world.
Moreover, because of the way the cloud works, a company needs to reserve — and pay for — only the amount of data it needs and is actively using. Business units can decide exactly which data is the most critical to recover, reducing costs just at the time when the organization most needs economy.
All that said, even with the cloud, an organization can't just set up a disaster recovery plan and walk away. Disaster recovery plans should be tested at least every year, and quarterly is even better, warns IDC, adding that products that can simulate tests and do pretest checks are particularly helpful.