In deploying a cloud computing model, organizations have many options. One cloud computing solution is to deploy the platform as a means for disaster recovery, business continuity, and extending the data center. With flexible “pay-as-you-grow” models, cloud computing can evolve with the needs of your business. In using the cloud, many organizations are still asking – When should I use the cloud for replication?
- Uptime and resiliency. Organizations which are forced to stay resilient at all times constantly look for ways to be creative and keep uptime level high. Whether it is redundant hardware or a private hot-site, keeping an environment up and running 99.99% (insert more 9’s here) of the time is a tough job. This is where cloud computing can really help. By utilizing either private or public cloud technologies, an IT infrastructure can efficiently replicate their environment site-to-site. This can be done to a private site or one stored at distributed sites by a cloud provider. With a well-planned deployment, and a good infrastructure, companies can efficiently load-balance their IT environment between multiple active, cloud-based, sites. So, if one site should go down – users would transparently be balanced to the next nearest or most available data center.
- Remote backup and storage. Storage systems have become more efficient and can now do offsite, cloud-based backup and replication. For those organizations looking to take their environment offsite, using cloud replication may be an option. By having a dedicated link to a cloud-based data center, engineers are able to safely backup and even restore from the cloud provider. Furthermore, some companies are bound by certain data retention policies. This is where cloud storage can really help. The data is retrievable (not for DR purposes though) and can be reviewed as needed. Using cloud-based backup and replication creates a versatile environment capable of greater amounts of recoverability and business continuity. The current market for cloud-based backup and storage is growing and more providers are offering competitive pricing. Organizations can adopt a flexible growth plan capable of scaling with IT infrastructure data demands.
- Branches and other offices. Cloud replication goes beyond just backup and DR. Remote offices can benefit from a private cloud environment where a central data center delivers applications, workloads and even desktops to remote users and branch offices. By having only a few connecting points at the branch office level, much of the horsepower is being done by the corporate data center. Only a few machines or key servers as well as possible a WAN optimizer would reside at the remote office. This type of efficient connection methodology reduces the amount of infrastructure components necessary at a remote office. Furthermore, using cloud replication and fewer components at the branch allows administrators to control resources and management very granularly. When deployed and planned out properly, this can have great cost savings for an organization.
- Building a “business-in-a-box.” Although we are really constructing a business “outside of the box,” the idea behind cloud computing allows many administrators to automate the launching of a new business branch. By centralizing the entire process within a cloud environment, IT only needs to deploy a few components at the end-point to allow connectivity into the cloud-hosted platform. This solution would hold workloads, files, desktops, applications and everything else needed to run an organization’s day-to-day business activities. This means that the standard business launch process can be cut in time and expedited dramatically. We’re reducing the amount of hardware that we need, and increasing agility by using the cloud to replicate business processes. The beauty with this type of scenario is that the entire infrastructure can be hosted within a private, public or even hybrid cloud environment.
There are many ways to deploy a solid cloud model. Remember, some components of using the Wide Area Network (WAN) as a delivery mechanism may be resource intensive. Latency, bandwidth and the end-user must all be considerations when cloud replication projects are being deployed. Cloud computing, as a technology, came in and overwhelmed a lot of people.
The reality here is that organizations are just finding better ways to utilize the Wide Area Network. With more Ethernet Services becoming available every day — and better infrastructure components become available – many companies, both large and small, are find ways to deploy some part of their environment into the cloud. When the IT goals and the business vision align properly on a project, the results can create a very resilient and agile environment capable of effective cloud-based replication.
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 Bill Kleyman: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/author/bkleyman/
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