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How do cloud DR services stack up with DR testing?

Independent backup expert Brien Posey discusses various types of cloud DR services available and how they stack up when it comes to DR testing.

Do cloud DR services make DR testing more or less difficult?

Whether cloud-based disaster recovery makes disaster recovery testing easier or more difficult depends on a number of factors. The most important of these factors are the types of testing that you want to do and the capabilities that are offered by the cloud provider. Let me give you a few examples.

Some cloud DR services act as little more than file replication targets. These types of providers make it really easy to test the restoration of individual files and folders, but large-scale restoration testing might not be practical due to the amount of time that it would take to copy a large volume of data across a WAN link.

On the other hand, there are some cloud service providers that allow entire virtual machines to be replicated to the cloud. In times of disaster, these virtual machine replicas can be spun up and used to maintain business continuity. In some situations, this type of environment can make disaster recovery testing more difficult, but in other instances, disaster recovery testing becomes easier.

The reason why replicating virtual machines to the cloud can sometimes compound the difficulty of DR testing is that, if you activate the virtual machines, you are essentially duplicating services that exist in your data center. Conflicts may exist due to IP address and computer name overlaps. In some cases, DNS records may keep any production traffic from reaching the cloud-based virtual machines that you are testing, but those same DNS records can also make it difficult to test the functionality of various workloads.

However, there are some providers that offer a virtual lab feature. This feature works by placing replica virtual machines into a sandbox environment, in which the virtual machines can be tested without fear of conflicting with production resources. In those instances, the cloud makes testing a lot easier.

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