Disaster recovery (DR) is one of the most important uses of cloud. For companies that are just making the switch to cloud computing, it’s a good first step. Since you don’t execute your disaster recovery plan every day, DR in the cloud lets you get familiar with the cloud without disrupting routine operations or putting critical production applications at risk.
It’s important to recognize that cloud DR doesn’t mean migrating your existing DR process to the cloud. You’ll want to rethink your strategy and make changes to optimize your new disaster recovery process. Here are some of the changes to make.
1. Change Your Recovery Time Objective
The goal of disaster recovery is to get applications back online as rapidly as possible with minimal data loss. There isn’t one number that applies to all workloads, as less important applications can tolerate longer outages. Whatever your existing recovery time objectives (RTOs) are, you should revisit them if you plan a switch to DR in the cloud. Depending on how you set up your cloud DR, recovery times can be dramatically reduced, particularly if you keep redundant virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud online and ready to go.
2. Change Your Backup Procedures
Recovery in the cloud necessarily requires backing up to the cloud. Your existing backup tools may be able to integrate with your cloud provider, or the cloud provider may offer tools to support backup as a service.
3. Change Your Recovery Procedures
Recovery procedures typically require restoring the latest data from tape to servers. If you’ve set your cloud DR up to be online, your servers will already be up and running with the latest replicated data. If not, your recovery process will need to define how to activate and load data on your cloud VMs. If you use Disaster Recovery as a Service, the recovery process will largely be automated but you’ll need to spend time beforehand to make sure the configurations are complete and capture all startup dependencies.
4. Change Your Disaster Recovery Spending
Disaster recovery expenses in the data center are largely hardware-related, with duplicate servers and storage purchased and set aside for DR purposes; you may also need duplicate software licenses. In the cloud, your DR spending becomes a monthly fee based on the amount of storage and how many virtual machines you use. There may also be a fee for transferring data into the cloud; there will almost certainly be a fee for transferring data out of the cloud, which you’ll need to do to resume your on-site operations after the disaster is resolved.
5. Change Your Disaster Recovery Testing
Many companies fail to test their traditional disaster recovery procedures because testing is time consuming and can be risky for the production environment. With cloud-based disaster recovery, the risks to production are greatly reduced. Tests can be done more easily, often during normal business hours, and so companies can have reassurance that their disaster recovery process will really work when they need it.
Start Changing Your Disaster Recovery Process to Cloud
How do you change from a data center-based DR process to DR in the cloud? As with every cloud project, start with planning. You’ll need to work through a variety of issues, including how data will get from premises to the cloud. Because of the criticality of disaster recovery, it’s helpful to work with a partner with experience in both cloud technology and disaster recovery. CCS Technology Group’s business continuity services will help you respond to any type of disaster. Contact us to learn more.