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Disaster recovery for cloud computing: Burning questions

Disaster recovery is a delicate, vital process that every organization needs to consider. With the rise of cloud computing, is cloud disaster recovery a viable option?

Is the cloud a viable option for disaster recovery? While security concerns still abound, there's no denying that cloud DR holds some appeal. Disaster recovery for cloud computing has some key differences from traditional DR methods, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Benefits of using the cloud for DR include the ability to better control costs, remote access to data in times of disaster and flexible DR planning that can suit organizations of different sizes. Sounds pretty great, right? Unfortunately, along with the aforementioned security issues, cloud DR has its own set of snags to look out for. And like the cloud itself, these concerns vary by organization.

Is cloud DR right for you? Whether you're worried about business continuity (BC), DR costs or whether the cloud even has a future in DR, there is a lot to consider. Below, we've compiled five common questions about DR for the cloud and the answers IT experts have offered.

What cloud recovery challenges should I look out for?

When evaluating the cloud for DR, there are a number of factors to watch out for. Security should be among the top priorities if you're looking into the cloud. Ensure that all data is encrypted, and make sure you know what needs to be protected, how important that data is and whether or not it needs to be recovered quickly. Along with security concerns, managing data on a granular level is important. With regulations like Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, organizations need the ability to quickly access specific files without having to unnecessarily pull significant amounts of other data. Luckily, most cloud DR vendors allow for granularity, but if you're considering the cloud for DR, consider this a priority.

Is cloud DR good for BC?

BC is a primary concern with disaster recovery for cloud computing. Getting your business back up and running with as little downtime as possible is vital these days, and there isn't much room for delay or failure.

Using the cloud for DR can be beneficial to BC. With the right system in place, you can fail over critical operations to the cloud during a disaster without a hitch. Cloud DR can improve resilience, allow for quicker response in times of disaster and supplement your existing DR strategy. The downside? Some say that enough managed services like cloud DR could lead to a decreased need for BC/DR professionals.

How can the cloud help in a catastrophic event?

A disaster could mean any number of things for an organization, from a loss of power to a pandemic. Is it possible to be prepared for the absolute worst? In the case of the recent California wildfires, a proper cloud DR plan can do a lot to help. By keeping resources off-site, employees suddenly being forced to work remotely can do so without worrying about resources being available. Along with making sure data is backed up regularly and securely in another location, don't forget to establish sufficient bandwidth and network access to enable remote working.

Where does cloud data recovery currently stand with organizations?

There's no shame in wondering what other DR pros are thinking when it comes to strategy. Think of it less as copying and more as crowdsourcing ideas. So what are people saying about cloud DR? For one, more organizations are insecure about their DR plans than you might think. According to TechTarget Research, only 22% of surveyed companies had high confidence in their DR plan.

This does not necessarily translate to low confidence in the cloud. Of the respondents, 20% reported using cloud-based backup, and 17% count the cloud among their DR tools. In fact, the top five critical features for a DR product were scalability, compatibility with existing infrastructure, capacity, ease of use and compatibility with virtual servers. If you're keeping score, these requirements are often listed as benefits of disaster recovery for cloud computing.

What is the future of disaster recovery for cloud computing?

One of the most common refrains in the early days of cloud computing was that it was just a fad, just the new, shiny thing people would be excited about for a little while before losing interest. So far, that does not seem to be the case with the cloud. The cloud has permeated just about every IT market, especially DR.

Hybrid cloud environments are on the rise, as well as simplified cloud management. One recent trend among cloud providers is an attempt to bring cloud DR to the same near-instant failover as its virtual counterpart. While the technology isn't quite there yet, it is maturing, and vendors are clearly putting in the work. With major cloud providers, like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, working to improve their offerings, it is unlikely that cloud DR is going to go anywhere.

This was last published in March 2018

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