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Cloud disaster recovery options: Public or purpose-built?

Despite the popularity of public cloud for disaster recovery, it's not the only option out there. Purpose-built clouds can offer greater flexibility and provider assistance.

The availability of public clouds, like AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud and Rackspace, has brought enterprise-caliber disaster recovery capabilities to every size organization. But just because the big-name brands offer DR capabilities doesn't mean other cloud disaster recovery options aren't worth a look.

In general, most organizations look to the cloud for efficiency, flexibility and cost-effectiveness -- especially when it comes to DR. There's an undeniable appeal of the public cloud being a one-stop shop for all things cloud DR. But there are also uses for multiple purpose-built cloud offerings to meet specific organizational needs.

So, what are the real differences between the two?

As I walk through this, please keep in mind that I'm addressing cloud DR in general terms, so there may be some discrepancies when compared to specific cloud disaster recovery options on the market.

Let's look at the differences between public and purpose-built clouds by hitting on three important aspects of cloud DR.

Flexibility

In general, public clouds have set offerings with some degree of options available. For example, AWS offers cloud-based backup, replication-based warm standby and even load balancing between on premises and AWS -- each with its own sets of options. But, despite this, your choices still reside within the context of AWS' offerings. Purpose-built cloud disaster recovery options tend to have unlimited flexibility, as they are custom-tailored to meet your specific needs.

Assistance

One of the primary tenets of the public cloud is the idea that the service is made so simply that you only need to read the manual to use it. Of course, we all know that's not true, but at least most public cloud DR offerings attempt to work in that direction. With public cloud, you're more or less on your own. There are service providers that specialize in DR on public cloud that can assist, but public cloud providers generally offer little assistance to the customer.

Purpose-built clouds are exactly the opposite. The provider helping craft your custom cloud is there to hold your hand as much -- or as little -- as you desire during a DR scenario. It's all a matter of choice and budget on your part.

Cost

Like anything you purchase, the commodity version is less expensive because it's created in bulk, with the custom version costing more because it requires more effort to create. So, you should already know where this is going -- public cloud tends to cost less upfront than purpose-built. However, it's important to truly count the cost of the public cloud, as things like data egress charges when you perform DR may not be obvious when signing up. Over time, purpose-built clouds could end up saving you money.

Choosing the right cloud

There isn't one right answer when choosing between these two cloud disaster recovery options. In fact, neither option is a bad choice. The reality is: Like any part of DR, you need to start with business objectives, define your DR requirements and see which choice best meets the organization's needs.

Next Steps

Check out our FAQ on cloud DR

9 key cloud DR terms to know
This was last published in March 2019

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