New Strategies for Cloud Disaster Recovery
Disaster recovery is commonly associated with complex configurations and high costs. Data replication for DR means there is a lot of duplicated equipment and facilities, including networking, administration, as well as power and cooling. More importantly, there are many things to manage such as storage capacity and performance, network bandwidth and traffic and data growth.
But, as Bob Dylan sang, "the times, they are changin'". Just as cloud technology brought a paradigm shift to application deployments, people are seeing similar game-changing developments with cloud disaster recovery too. One of the biggest cloud shifts is removing the requirement for a separate DR site that will save the day when everything goes belly up. Instead IT leaders are recognizing the power of the cloud to store their disaster recovery data more effectively and for far less cost. Using the cloud for disaster recovery provides the following key benefits:
- Cloud disaster recovery transfers infrastructure costs to cloud service providers
- Cloud disaster recovery facilitates DR testing and validation
- Cloud disaster recovery eliminates physical tapes and tape management
- Cloud disaster recovery provides flexibility for the recovery location
- Cloud disaster recovery centralizes DR storage from multiple sites, including ROBOs
- Cloud disaster recovery improves RTOs (recovery time objectives)
- Cloud disaster recovery enables recovery-in-the-cloud
Let's look at each of these benefits more closely.
Transfer infrastructure costs
Equipment and resources for DR have costs with a very small chance of generating a return on the investment. There is no point in owning resources such as storage, networking, servers, racks, power and cabling that you hope to never use. Clearly, the cloud mantra of paying only for what is used applies here. You don't overpay for insurance with cloud disaster recovery.
Of course everything has to work when you need it to. The interesting thing about cloud disaster recovery is that it is even easier to test and validate than traditional DR because it can be done without interrupting production systems. Many of our customers at StorSimple cite this as a very important benefit.
One of the worst parts of any recovery operation is anything and everything involving tapes. Naming tapes, loading tapes, unloading tapes, moving tapes, retensioning tapes, copying tapes, deleting tapes, disposing tapes, tapes, tapes and tapes. They aren't needed with cloud disaster recovery.
Recovery location flexibility
Recovering data from the cloud can happen at any site with a reasonably good Internet connection. Moreover, it can happen at multiple sites, which means it is easier to make contingency plans for multiple-site complications as well as being able to spread the recovery load over more resources.
Centralize DR storage
Another aspect of location flexibility with DR is the ability for companies to store DR data in the cloud from many sites or remote branch offices (ROBOs). While each site or branch office will have a unique URL to store their data, the access to this data is centralized in the cloud where it can all be easily accessed from a single Internet connection in their primary data center. In other words, the DR data from any ROBO can be instantly accessed at headquarters.
The data that is needed to resume operations after a disaster can be limited to only the data that is needed by applications - as opposed to downloading multiple tape images in-full and restoring data from them. This can save weeks during a large scale recovery. Data that is not needed immediately does not consume any bandwidth or other resources that would interfere with the restore process. This approach to data recovery uses a concept called "the working set", which is the collection of data that is being used by applications. Working-set based cloud disaster recovery is the most efficient way to recover data.
Related to recovery flexibility is the ability to resume operations in the cloud by using cloud compute services. In this case, the DR data stays in the cloud where it is accessed by cloud-resident applications. Application users connect to the application through a connection to their cloud service provider. The data that stays in the cloud needs to be presented to the application in its usual fashion - as a file share, for instance.