If we’re being technical the concept of cloud computing goes back over half a century when in the 1950s mainframe computers served applications to thin clients. But if we’re focused on the definition and success of today’s cloud architecture, no spring chicken either, you’d have to point to companies like Salesforce.com and Dropbox and their respective evangelizing as a driving force to what we see today.
With the economic pay-off being felt by end users the naysayers have largely been silenced. Now, users are exploring other uses of the cloud as ways of squeezing more from IT budgets while ensuring company data is preserved. One emerging application is cloud disaster recovery. For cloud users poised to add new functionality, here’s a checklist of considerations:
Cloud disaster recovery (CDR) is also known as disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS or RaaS). The name is less important than what it does. Amidst the most extreme situations, when a data loss episode may occur, cloud disaster recovery quickly recovers company data, ensuring that once power and internet are restored users can resume operations with data intact.
It not technology for just the big boys, either. One of the biggest benefits of cloud and virtualization technologies is for the small and midsize organization, who, today, have affordable options to protect and easily recover critical systems and data in the event of disaster or site outage.
And while cost is an important part of the investment, it’s not as simple as being funded from a healthy working capital or operations balance sheet (CAPEX vs. OPEX). Today’s CDR also gives organizations the option to manage disaster recovery planning and processes internally or outsource it completely if they have the resources and expertise in-house.
Further, CDR enables organizations to be more business IT resilient. If scheduled server maintenance or office power is out for the weekend, CDR offers users the option to proactively failover to the cloud during the planned outage.
Not all clouds are created equal – some are considerably less secure, reliable and dynamic than others. So an obvious drawback of CDR is that, if you don’t do your research, you can end up with a provider that doesn’t cover all your bases. For this reason investing in expertise is equally important and should not be underestimated in the decision making process. Users without experience in planning, testing and recovery of data (all necessary onboarding steps) must establish a relationship with a partner that does.
But further to these is an awareness in standards still being developed and an assuredness that providers under consideration know them backwards and forwards. Credentials relating to standards such as SAS 70 compliance and tier levels would indicate you’re dealing with a competent provider.
Security is another aspect to consider. Because cloud-based services must be managed and operated at equivalent levels to enterprise systems the data must be properly encrypted both in motion and at rest. The physical locations of the cloud must be secure, and the business processes must be appropriate to the data and usage. For all these reasons it’s critical to make sure providers are stressing security.
Once those constraints are satisfied, cloud storage is no more or less secure than physical storage, and the chance of data leakage from cloud computing is no higher than that of physical on-premise storage.