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Disaster Recovery in Cloud Computing
Part of running a successful business is looking toward the future. This can include predicting trends and anticipating opportunities for better sales or demand for new products and services. It can also include being prepared for possible threats to your operations and infrastructure.
Business owners who prepare for the unknown will be ahead of the curve if a disaster strikes. Disasters can include natural occurrences such as fires, floods, or civil unrest, as well as disruptions in service due to loss of data, which could be caused by hacking, ransomware attacks, or even accidental deletion of items from the network.
A disaster can negatively affect your finances, causing lost revenue while your business or its data are offline. Disasters can also damage your reputation if you take too long to get back up and running.
What Is Disaster Recovery?
Although you can't predict what disasters will hit or when, you can still put a plan in place to deal with the aftermath.
A disaster recovery plan outlines how you'll restore your operations and be back in business. Businesses specifically structure their disaster recovery plans to protect vital sets of data or software needed to resume important day-to-day operations. The goal is to minimize disruption to components of the business that might negatively impact revenue, sales, or customer service.
There are many factors to consider when building your disaster recovery plan. One might ask:
- What is the size of my organization? How many jobs, roles, and responsibilities would be impacted by a catastrophic event?
- Are people working remotely, at one office, or across multiple locations?
- Are we already using cloud services for storage?
- Do we rely on traditional backups like tape, DVDs, or external hard drives?
- What primary hardware and software do we need to prioritize when recovering from a disaster?
Companies can collect all this information and put it in a formal plan to bring everything online as soon as possible.
What Is Cloud Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)?
Companies can outsource the creation of an effective disaster recovery plan as a means of getting started.
Third-party hosting options work with organizations to put a plan together and take a role in implementing it when a disaster takes place. This includes making sure all data is organized, replicated, and able to be moved properly upon request.
Utilizing a disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) solution also allows companies to stay connected from anywhere, which can be useful if a physical location is unsafe or unavailable, since data kept in the cloud will remain intact.
Businesses can seek out backup and recovery cloud solutions that can partner with a variety of companies specializing in storage and protection, like Commvault and Veeam, to strengthen their overall recovery plan. This opportunity adds more capabilities to a company’s disaster plan.
Cloud Disaster Recovery vs. Traditional Disaster Recovery
The increase of cloud options, as well as lower prices in the past few years, has allowed more companies to explore different options for these services. While some companies enjoy the potentially unlimited storage options available with cloud services and use these services for all data backup purposes, some still rely on traditional disaster recovery methods to plan for and manage data loss that may occur at their on-premises data center or their company-managed private cloud. Either option has advantages, depending on your company’s size and footprint.
What Is Traditional Disaster Recovery?
Traditional disaster recovery can include restoring or repairing damaged systems, often with physical backups. This keeps everything under local control.
This method of disaster recovery includes a physical onsite collection of a company’s data and its associated external hardware. Depending on the size of your company, you may have to invest funds and resources into building this onsite structure. Additionally, you will need to invest in keeping this structure continually maintained, updated, and looked after. Overall, it can be a costly and time-consuming process.
What Are the Disadvantages of Traditional Disaster Recovery?
The short answer is time and money. Compared to cloud disaster recovery, which can be done in seconds, traditional disaster recovery may take several hours to get everything reloaded, rebooted, and tested. A company may also not have necessary expertise in house to guide the recovery process. Companies that maintain backup locations or emergency offsite recovery centers may also pay for power and space. They run the risk of these centers being affected if there's a larger disaster in a local community, further delaying time to come back online.
What Are the Advantages of Disaster Recovery in Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing backups can make disaster recovery fairly simple. The process can involve creating duplicate virtual machines of a client's servers. These are kept online and refreshed regularly. When a disaster happens, a company just needs to initiate its disaster recovery plan to begin the process of restoring its data to these servers and services.
This can minimize data loss and get the company operating quickly. The disaster recovery plan may require waiting to bring lower-priority components online until after implementing critical items, but focusing on activating the most crucial data and services first is a good starting place to ensure essential operations can recover more quickly.
This method can involve beginning the recovery process from any location rather than only from a specific physical location.
What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan
A disaster recovery plan outlines how systems can come back online, whether you contact your cloud provider or begin to load backups yourself. It also outlines what departments are responsible for implementing certain tasks.
This plan can be a blueprint for a company to follow, with some decisions already made and relationships established with various vendors.
The alternative could be chaos, with different managers competing to figure out how to get things back online and no one having a lot of guidance. Accounts may need to be reestablished and set up with vendors, which in some cases may incur additional costs or result in uncertain timelines.
A disaster recovery plan is intended to be dynamic and flexible. This means it shouldn't be created and filed away like safety manuals. It should be refreshed regularly, perhaps annually, to ensure the most current processes are put back in place and the most current IT vendors and partners are brought back online.
Hard and digital copies of the plan should be maintained and made available.
How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan
An effective disaster recovery plan can be created by:
- Inventorying technology assets, such as computers, servers, licenses, and subscriptions
- Creating a list of processes to access various cloud locations, such as secure logins and passwords
- Creating a list of key employees (titles/departments, but not necessarily names) responsible for different tasks
- Gathering a list of contact people for various partners, including security
- Setting estimated deadlines between activating the plan/when the disaster occurs and how long before certain requirements are met
- Sending the plan to key people in the company to ensure the details are accurate; this can include managers but also front-line IT and customer service staff who might be responsible for executing data retrieval