Powering backup and DR with cloud

1 Author : June 21, 2013 0

DD Mishra, managing consultant, CIO Specialist

Cloud came as blessing in disguise for back-up and disaster recovery services. Traditionally, we have depended on tapes and data centres for the both which required huge investments. The paradigm shift brought by the cloud has made it possible SMB sector to explore these services.

“It won’t happen to me”, is some kind of self-assuring myth which mostly people feel comfortable with. I was going through a document from Texas University which tells us that only six per cent of the smaller business survives the catastrophic data losses.

University of Minnesota found that “93 per cent of business that lost their data centre for 10 days or more filed bankruptcy”. If these facts are true, DR and backups acts as life line for our business as bad times cannot be completely avoided. Disasters just don’t happen; they are chain of critical events. Not having a robust DR could be one of them.

Man can make mistakes. We do not have control over nature. There is no guarantee that force majeure events will not happen. If we agree with these, we cannot justify not having a DR or backup unless the cost of putting a DR defeats our business case.

Thanks to cloud for bringing backup and DR to door steps of many who would have been risking their businesses earlier due to high costs involved and making it easier for those who have been using tradition methodologies of tape and data centre. The following benefits can be realised through cloud based DRs:-

1. SAN to SAN replication will make both backup and recovery faster. This can minimize your downtime from outages due to data losses. Faster retrieval of historic data from cloud based backup sites makes it possible to cut down your data retrieval needs for regulatory, compliance or back office needs as well.

2. No upfront investment needed in creating huge infrastructure. Mostly the planning has to be done in conventional environments based on predicable data growth and there is always a risk of under capacity or over capacity. You can further fine tune your varying needs of RPO and RTO based on changes in your business and calibrate your payment.

3. Elasticity of cloud makes it convenient to expand or shrink based on demand for backup and recovery. Pay as you go makes it cost effective.

4. DR on cloud makes it possible for a truly multisite replication of data/systems far away from geographical boundaries of the current site.

5. Security and encryption of hosted premises provides better control and protection of backup.

6. Overall it is easy and fast to setup a cloud based DR /Backup site. You also have flexibility of changing quickly what needs to be backed up.

While the advantages are many, following questions also need to be answered:-

1. What will be bandwidth/internet charges needed to carry the data?

2. What will be the cost of data retention if it is for a long time?

3. What if in case the cloud provider decides to close the business?

4. What is the track record of the provider?

5. How securely the provider transfers the data in the event of disaster and how it authenticates the users?

6. How will cloud based DR and Backup work alongside the overall business continuity for the organisation.

In conclusion, the cost of regaining the customer again is several time higher when you lost significant data and trust. Hence, I see a careful use of available options of cloud based DR and backup can bring wonderful opportunities for those who could not avail this option till recently.
Public cloud based DR may bring your cost down to as high as 70-80 per cent with respected to “build your own DR”. One of the benefits I see in using this as to find out how much we are spending on DR and link it to “charge back” model if we have implemented and we can better guarantee our SLAs.

My suggestion to those who decide to avail this opportunity is to begin with end in mind.

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