Disaster Recovery (DR) in the cloud refers to the practice of hosting a copy of mission critical data on a third party server. In the event of a catastrophic in-house server failure, the affected user is granted virtual access to the backup files and systems. DR therefore helps to reduce or eliminate downtime.
Do I Need Disaster Recovery in the Cloud?
In order to develop a better understanding of whether your business would benefit from DR, let’s take a closer look at the answers to the following three questions:
- How does DR work? When you decide to hire a third party to handle your disaster recovery plan, you will have options. Firstly, if you wish to store a relatively large amount of data, you may be provided with a high capacity removable storage device and asked to return the device once loaded with the relevant legacy files. The service provider will then begin the process (which may take many days) of uploading and compartmentalising this initial file dump to the cloud server. The process serves to frees up your on site machines from having to maintain direct online contact with the third party servers during the upload. You may upload further files to the cloud server on a daily basis so as to maintain as close to a real-time copy of your in office data as possible (usually several uploads per day are permitted). Your service provider will also discuss expected recovery times with you, including an option to select prioritised files or systems (e.g. access to email is often listed as a priority).
- What are the benefits of DR? The true benefit of outsourcing DR to a third party host is the guarantee that in the event of a catastrophic event such as server failure or file corruption, expert help is instantly available. Staff at your third party host will talk you through the recovery process. Downtime is therefore minimised, and your company does not have to employ full time on site IT technicians.
- What are the other options? Obviously, you do not have to choose to protect your data. You could risk everything and hope that an IT specialist could help in the event of a catastrophic network failure. The next best plan is to host your own DR plan. This would, however, require staff to update and maintain the system. The next best plan after this is to enter into a colocation plan (or ‘colo’), whereby a third party vendor rents out physical space within which DR activity may take place. This method helps to reduce overheads such as lighting and heating, but you are still required to provide your own staff. Depending on the size of your business, the best option in terms of value for money and peace of mind is likely to be outsourcing your DR plan to specialist cloud based recovery company.
A recent report on the financial impact of recovery time indicated that more than 80% of the companies surveyed would likely experience losses of around $300,000 per hour of downtime. While these numbers represent big business, any associated small and medium sized trading partners would stand to experience the the negative trickle down financial effects of downtime. As an industry, safeguarding against downtime is understandably experiencing exponential growth - DR has a predicted global value of $3bn by 2020.
What Happened Before DR Was Available?
Prior to the availability of dedicated cloud recovery services, large amounts of mission critical data could only be made available via hard disc backup - this was time consuming both in terms of creating the backup drives and physically restoring the files via manual disc by disc recovery. Storage considerations and potential outsourced staffing costs (where on-site staff are not trained in recovery) were also a consideration in promoting smooth business continuity.
What is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is the measure of a company's ability to cope with a catastrophic event. A fast or seamless return to normal operations is a desirably high level of business continuity. Following an event that restricts or prevents access to data (e.g. network disruption or file corruption), disaster recovery in the cloud has become the industry standard safeguard against downtime.
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