Emergencies happen, environments go down, but the business process must go on! Right? Over the past few years, smaller and even mid-size organizations found it challenging to enter the DR and even business continuity conversation.
First things first: it’s important to understand that disaster recovery and business continuity are two different business objectives. However, they can certainly overlap. Even today there is still some confusion about what the cloud can really deliver. Not so much how the cloud works, but more around DR capabilities. Folks, whether you’re a small shop or a large enterprise, if you have haven’t looked at the cloud as a DR or business continuity option, it’s time that you do.
There are specific cloud technologies that have become driving factors for better business IT redundancy.
- Cloud-based traffic management. This is all about global traffic management (GTM) and global server load balancing (GSLB). Our ability to logically control traffic over vast distances has allowed the cloud to become a true hub for many different kinds of DR strategies.
- Software-defined everything! Let’s face it. Working with today’s modern networking controllers is pretty nice. We can now create thousands of virtual connection points from one physical switch port. Plus, we’re able to control layer 4-7 traffic at a much more granular level. Networking aside, we also concept around software-defined data center, storage, security and much more. The point is that you can now abstract a lot of physical resources directly into the cloud layer.
- Virtualization. Working with agile technologies like virtualization allows the sharing, replication, and backup of various kinds of images and workloads. These images can then span global data centers depending on the needs of the organization. Image control has come a really long way. Open source technologies like OpenStack, CloudStack, and Eucalyptus allow for VM and image management spanning many different types of cloud environments.
- New types of storage and hardware intelligence. Cloud-based storage solutions have come a long way. Whether we’re working with an open-source cloud storage platform or something more traditional, like EMC or NetApp, our ability to control storage is pretty advanced. Data deduplication, controller multi-tenancy, and fast site-to-site replication make cloud storage systems a powerful part of the DR process. Here’s the other concept to understand: it’s now much easier to build your own commodity storage/backup platform. As software-defined storage continues to gain popularity, creating your own disk and flash resource pool becomes very feasibly. From there, you can point all data and storage resources to one, logical, storage head. This software-defined storage component will let you span cloud environments regardless of the underlying hardware.
Here’s the best part. Moving toward a cloud DR strategy can be very cost effective. Organizations will need to conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) to establish effective recovery time objectives (RTOs) and the internal DR strategy. However, once that’s complete administrators can look at various cloud models to help them delivery true infrastructure high availability. From the cloud’s perspective, the options are truly numerous:
Hot site or active/active configurations
- Requirements: Absolutely minimal downtime.
- This can be pricey. Basically you would need a hot site that is always operational – sill, this may be a necessity.
Warm or cold site active/passive
- Requirements: Some downtime is allowed. But not prolonged.
- This is less expensive and can be adopted under a “pay-as-you-use” cloud model.
Workload-based disaster recovery or business continuity
- Requirements: Not the entire infrastructure needs to be recovered – only certain services or applications.
- While still stored in the cloud – applications, databases, or other services can be either mirrored live or be provided in case of an emergency.
- Requirements: Downtime is not a major factor – but the application, or workload is still very important and needs to be brought up quickly.
- Similar to workload-based recovery, these cloud services replicate data, applications or other services to a cold VM-based backup. Should the need arise, either specific data or an entire workload can be recovered. Depending on the contract – this process is a bit slower.
There are numerous different kinds of services being offered which are originating from cloud vendors and providers. They really interesting part here is that these products and services are being delivered to a larger vertical and more organizations of various sizes. With more resilience, better replication, and a lot more support the cloud can be a pretty powerful platform for your DR strategy.