Disaster Recovery

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Disaster Recovery in Cloud Computing

Ensuring Business Continuity and Seamless Disaster Recovery
Cloud Disaster Recovery

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

It is essential for organizations to be well prepared for all types of disasters, whether in the form of hardware failures, cyberattacks or even natural disasters. The business continuity of a company in the event of a disaster is dependent, to a major extent, on its ability to replicate the systems and data.

Loss of data can result in a serious financial impact to organizations and may even damage their reputation due to loss of customer confidence. Hence, proper planning and creation of a roadmap for dealing with potential disasters are essential for minimizing the negative impact on a company in the long-term.

Disaster Recovery (DR) enables business continuity without any hindrance to the operations in the event of a disaster. Most large enterprises allocate between 2-4% of their IT budgets to disaster recovery planning, with some companies spending even up to 25% to minimize the infrastructure risks.

Disaster Recovery Plan for Cloud Services – Key Considerations

A disaster recovery plan takes into account a preparation for a disaster and the response to it, in addition to the steps required to ensure the system/operation restore.

According to Gartner’s 2017 Security and Risk Survey, 80% of global IT organizations experienced at least one major outage or systems failure in the past few years that compelled them to have a proper disaster recovery plan in place.

Disaster recovery planning takes into account:

  • Programs and data: DR plans need to separately account for both data and programs. While data includes customer accounts and business relationship records, programs include the software that runs an organization’s operations.
  • Dependencies: Dependencies between software must be identified, as certain programs may require additional software to be loaded before the existing software is operable.
  • Personnel: It is also important to identify the key personnel who will be involved in restoring the systems and data.
  • Compliance: Organizations in some sectors such as healthcare may also need to ensure regulatory compliance and security before resuming operations with the recovered data.

Types of Cloud Disaster Recovery

Cloud-based data protection services are of three types:

  • Backup as a Service (BaaS)
  • Recovery as a Service (RaaS)
  • Disaster Recovery as a service (DRaaS)

Using BaaS, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) backup and restore the contracted data. RaaS is an extension of BaaS, where applications are also restored from the cloud in addition to the data.

DRaaS is much more extensive than RaaS and includes cloud-based failover, in addition to backup and recovery services. DRaaS adoption is essential for organizations requiring 100% availability of their critical applications.

Advantages of DRaaS

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) includes several capabilities that are not found in the traditional backup and disaster recovery methods. These include:

  • Reliability, flexibility and high performance
  • Effective addressing of mobility and portability challenges
  • Consumption of much lesser operational resources
  • Rapid and immediate recovery of data in the event of a disaster
  • Quick restoration of normal operations
  • Significant savings in terms of software licenses and hardware

Disaster Recovery Options

DRaaS can broadly be classified into three types based on the level of security and service required.

  • Self-Service DRaaS: This is the basic version of DRaaS, where an organization engages with a DRaaS vendor only for purchasing a public/private cloud for data storage and is responsible for managing the data protection processes and recovering data. This option is more suited for large organizations with a separate team of DR engineers.
  • Assisted DRaaS: Here, organizations assemble and manage the DR plan with the option of seeking the DRaaS provider’s assistance. The assisted DRaaS option is ideal for organizations looking to leverage the flexibility option of the cloud. As the provider is not involved in managing the process end-to-end, they do not guarantee a fixed recovery time as part of the Service Level Agreement (SLA).
  • Managed DRaaS: In the managed DRaaS model, the DRaaS provider is responsible for the implementation and management of data protection and recovery. Managed DRaaS involves comprehensive SLAs with organizations entitled to receive reimbursements for unmet objectives. On account of the added functionalities, managed DRaaS is generally priced much higher than the assisted and self-service DRaaS models.

Benefits of Implementing Cloud-based Disaster Recovery

There are several benefits of hosting a DR program in the cloud. Key benefits include:

  • Elimination of back-up using disks and tapes: Cloud disaster recovery involves real-time data back-up in the cloud and eliminates the need for daily backup with disks, tapes, flash drives and other options.
  • Off-site storage of mission-critical data: Widely-dispersed cloud servers, which are redundantly designed in remote geographical locations ensure that data is recovered, and production is restarted on time if the production center is partially or even fully destroyed.
  • Cost reduction: A cloud DR solution is cost-effective as organizations do not require to duplicate costly hardware and need to pay only for the services availed from the cloud service provider.
  • Reliable and easier implementation: Data restore functions can give rise to problems in case of physical backup using tape drives, disks, etc., unlike cloud restoration, which has a reliability of at least 99%.
  • Faster recovery: Cloud-based DR drastically reduces the time for the Recovery Point Objective (RPO), the specific period an organization decides to withstand data loss, and Recovery Time Objective (RTO), the maximum time an organization can afford system downtime, from weeks to days and hours.
Benefits of Implementing Cloud-based Disaster Recovery
  • Scalability: Utilization of the Cloud DR services can be scaled up or down as per business requirements, with payment required only for the actual use.
  • Efficiency: Storage of data in the cloud ensures lower capital costs and greater efficiency in disaster management as the need for large servers and complex hardware is eliminated.