Business and technology paradigms are changing at an exceptional pace today. The IT ecosystem within organizations is become increasingly complex and a disaster is no longer a remote possibility.
Today’s businesses have an extremely high dependence on voluminous and varied data to make decisions. Greater exposure to external information and systems have increased the level of vulnerability that companies face today. In keeping with new business dynamics, and a technology environment that is growing in complexity every month, Disaster Recovery (DR) needs to go beyond traditional models (that focused on on-premise infrastructure, applications and data). They need to encompass a much broader range of scenarios and have adequate, pre-emptive risk mitigation strategies for known and unknown eventualities. Another DR concern in the new, less controllable technology environment is whether or not the DR strategy will hold up in the face of new threats and vulnerabilities that were not part of the plan.
However, with shrinking technology budgets and constant pressure on IT teams to meet immediate business needs, DR and business continuity programs often gets deprioritized. Market research firm IDC has recently estimated that nearly 50% of organizations may have inadequate DR plans. Mid-sized and smaller organizations, with greater revenue pressures, rarely build the necessary resilience to ensure business continuity. At best, their DR strategy tries to cover as many scenarios and failure points as they can see in the near-term. Often their assessment of their DR needs is based on assumptions about the potential risk scenarios. These scenarios are sometimes tested in a controlled environment, e.g. creating a power outage situation to check if network resilience, often too simple a scenario compared to a real-world disaster scenario (that may include flooding, sabotage and failure along multiple points).
Continuously testing a DM strategy against changing real-world scenarios would obviously involve significant investments in infrastructure, resources and subject matter expertise. Most organizations are not willing to allocate extensive budgets for scenarios that they feel are not likely to happen. However, they also understand that, in the absence of rigorous, continuous testing, they face a significant risk.
This is where a cloud-based DR strategy has great advantages. Cloud-DR solutions generally provide repeatable and benchmarked DR processes, and provide a cost-effective way to evolve and test your DR strategy in a fast changing business environment. Having DR infrastructure on the cloud also allows companies to free up physical space, reduce capital expenditure and lower the burden on IT teams in case of a disaster.
A significant advantage of using a cloud-based DR strategy is the ability to leverage pre-defined SLAs for DR processes. These SLAs are often aligned to global benchmarks for system performance, and exceed the organization’s own objectives (in terms of availability, recovery time and recovery points). At the same time, a cloud-DR also gives you the power to split your workloads and put them on different infrastructure, depending on specific recovery policies and SLAs for different workloads. Certain workloads for mission critical processes such as stock market transactions may require continuous application availability and stringent recovery time objectives. It is also strategically advantageous to back-up mission critical data and applications away from the primary site. Less critical workloads such as informational websites or HR applications may be lower in priority in terms of recovery times, and kept on less expensive infrastructure.
According to Gartner, by 2020, 90% of businesses will use cloud infrastructure and services for DR. This comes as no surprise. Cloud allows for great flexibility in the way businesses implement their DR strategy, by incorporating additional capabilities such as managed DR services (RPO / RTO monitoring) and virtual private cloud models. The cloud allows businesses to take a more pre-emptive approach to DR and BCP, by ensuring better alignment of IT services, external third-party system, multi-location systems and continuous DR testing needs. At Netmagic, we have seen growing customer interest in our 5R approach to DR (respond, reduce, recover, restore and return). In fact, companies who are already users of NTT Global Data Centers and Cloud Infrastructure, India's cloud services have the ability to seamlessly get started with the DR on Cloud service.
Using Cloud-DR is likely to give you much greater flexibility when designing, upgrading or testing your DR strategy, and your DR and BCP strategy stands a better chance of delivering the goods when you need it the most.