High on the list of every company's worst fears is a disaster that causes an outage resulting in significant downtime. Of course, it's not just catastrophes that you have to worry about. The more likely cause of an outage is an everyday operational failure from security breaches, software issues, hardware failures or human error -- recurring problems that are impossible to avoid.
When an outage occurs, it can mean lost productivity, lost revenue, lost reputation and quicker than you think, lost customers. So, having a disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) strategy is a must. But, traditionally, commercial solutions are expensive, resource-intensive, and complicated to implement, maintain and test. These facts have largely prevented companies from adequately protecting themselves.
The public cloud has changed the way companies approach BC and DR. IT leaders in businesses of every size are considering the public cloud as a cost-effective DR/BC option, and many have a roadmap that includes a dynamic mix of hybrid on- and off-premise resources to deliver business resiliency.
So how do you effectively integrate a cloud environment into your on-premises infrastructure for DR/BC? This question can sound daunting when you consider the complexities, security risks and management headaches that most companies think that the public cloud can introduce. But, by keeping a few important things in mind, this transition to a hybrid environment can be smoother than you think, and even prepare you up for success with other use cases in the future.
Below are five critical areas to consider to as you move to protect your workloads leveraging the public cloud, so you can quickly and predictably adapt to disruptions and maintain continuous business operations, no matter the size and scope of your outage.
Differences in disaster recovery as a service
While there are many solutions on the market described as DRaaS, there are significant differences in what they provide. Most are simply cloud-based backup renamed as DRaaS. In this case, recovery depends on the availability of your own infrastructure, which can be a big problem following a failure. In other cases, DRaaS is not benefitting from public cloud scale and reliability. Also, many DRaaS solutions don't provide managed service options, so your team will have to take this on. Look for solutions that provide public cloud infrastructure, cloud-based recovery and the expertise you need to be successful.
Automation is perhaps the most important consideration. A key reason legacy approaches have been so complex and expensive is the manual labor involved in deployment, testing and recovery. Automation can help provide you with a combination of low costs, reliability and predictability.
Testing traditional DR/BC solutions is so complex, it's rarely done well, if at all. The above mentioned automation enables frequent testing without the overhead of legacy solutions. While testing is not a glamorous task, it is the Achilles' heel of DR/BC. Even in the backup arena, most works are not recoverable without manual intervention. This complexity increases with DR/BC, unless automation helps you verify and consolidate the change sets being captured and then test a full recovery of the workload.
Efficient administration and management
A unified management infrastructure minimizes the labor to manage a recovery dramatically. When evaluating disaster recovery options, look for alternatives that allow you to easily manage your on-premises and public cloud workloads as one unified pool of resources.
Of course, the main function of any DR solution is to get your business up and running as quickly as possible. The cloud provides the ability to recover in the cloud -- and run totally in the cloud -- until your on-premises resources are available again. Many DRaaS solutions limit how long you are able to continue operations in the cloud, but those that utilize the public cloud for resources typically don't have this constraint. Your DR/BC solution should provide agility and flexibility and should be able to leverage to the cloud for any duration needed.
Enterprises shouldn't live in a constant state of fear, wondering when an outage will hit their company and put operations on hold. The public cloud combined with new recovery offerings can make DR/BC affordable for almost any organization -- if you anticipate potential obstacles and address them in advance. Not only will this allow you to have a cost-effective DR/BC environment, it can set you up to migrate more areas of your business to the cloud, saving time, resources, aggravation, and money.