Sunday, 7 May 2017
5 Tips To Set Up Cloud-based Disaster Recovery
Cloud based storage solutions are helping businesses reduce dependency of on-site computing and look at Hosting Service Providers for Disaster Recovery
Cloud computing has become well publicised by its pay-as-you-go pricing model that benefits both small and medium enterprises as well as large scale enterprises. However, with the development of object based Cloud storage solutions from multiple vendors, the benefits of backing up and synchronising data both on-premises and into the Cloud are becoming increasingly evident.
Cloud based storage solutions are hosted at multiple Data Center locations and in that sense, can provide the ability for organisations to work remotely in the case of an on-site failure or localised disaster. However, the process of setting up a full-blown, Cloud based Disaster Recovery service requires broader considerations and a somewhat more rigorous step-wise approach. A look at some of these considerations:
1. What does your organisation need?
It is necessary to evaluate what are the expectations from Cloud storage or what are the benefits that the organisation hopes to realise from Cloud based storage. This could be purely operational such as moving archived data or tape storage to Cloud storage. So, while the primary storage backup is onsite, it is also replicated to the Cloud. Other organisations may wish to replicate virtual machines to the Cloud storage with the provision of having them ready to be transferred to any other Data Center based on circumstances.
2. What is the forte of your hosting provider?
The next step is to match the requirements of your organisation with what the Hosting Service Providers can offer. Some Cloud Hosting Providers can offer storage on demand, archival storage, virtual and physical image backups, in varying degrees of effectiveness. But for Disaster Recovery, you need to have distributed storage as well as restoration of physical and virtual machine images and hosting of virtual machines. It may be necessary to look at multiple Hosting Service Providers and compare what they have to offer in terms of prices and services.
3. Looking out for those hidden costs
The total cost of a Cloud based Disaster Recovery service is a combination of multiple things. Considering the costs of all elements is the first step towards understanding the total cost of the service. The elements to be added include the basic subscription charges and what they cover; the network capacity required to maintain priority backup and replication fail over; the cost of storage consumed averaged over a certain period of time; the cost of hosting virtual machines whether active or hot, passive or cold, or warm, etc.
4. Managing your backup connectivity pipe
Managing the bandwidth allocation for backup into Cloud based storage is the most critical part of managing the cost and preventing loss of unsaved data in the event of a primary Data Center outage.
The strategy of managing this includes estimating the average bandwidth requirement to ensure optimal, consistent and continuous backup as well as a policy of prioritising backup workloads during off peak hours. The ideal model is to balance workloads requirements from all departments while ensuring that the process of backup continues into the Cloud based storage site during both peak and off-peak hours.
Other technology solutions may also be used to assist this process including data deduplication, Active Directory synchronisation, Hyper-V disaster recovery management, amongst others.
5. Testing the solution for a full-blown failover
While an organisation may set up the basic requirements of a Cloud based Disaster Recovery solution, the robustness of the solution also depends on understanding the complete scope that the solution is expected to deliver as well as sufficient testing.
A full-blown Disaster Recovery testing and simulation usually always includes operational procedures of business continuity and other departments. More importantly, the challenges of switching over to a remotely managed IT organisation, hosted in the Cloud and other remote Data Centres is vastly different from the operations of backup into a Cloud based storage management solutions. Hence identifying the complete scope of the exercise from the beginning is critical to its success.
Switching IT operations to Cloud based virtual machines to retrieve data and transfer it to on-premise machines or to run the IT operations from Cloud based virtual machines can be complex and challenging. They may involve third party applications to manage and support these processes.
While recognising that setting up Cloud based Disaster Recovery is a step-by-step approach, once established, it offers significant benefits. These include:
1. Pay as you go
Using a Cloud based Disaster Recovery solution from a Hosting Provider allows end users to manage their costs as they scale their operations. It also eliminates capital expenditures.
2. High reliability
Onsite storage devices may look seemingly efficient in the backup process. It is only when a restore operation gets underway that incidents of data replication failure and prolonged duration of time to restore data, show themselves. Cloud based solutions are far more rigorously tested and reliable for such situations.
3. Continuity of work
Cloud solutions also include virtual desktop services which allow end users to continue working from any remote location till onsite services are restored.
4. Varying workloads
Cloud based solutions allow end users to vastly increase demands on the Hosting Services provider without concern of possible technology platform or resource failures. The elastic capability of cloud solutions are a key ingredient of their success.
5. Economies of scale
The business model of Hosting Service Providers is built on economies of scale both in terms of offering cost saving benefits as well as offering best of breed technology solutions and services.
In summary, Cloud based Disaster Recovery solutions are less expensive than physical and hardware based solutions; they are easier to manage and put into operations, and being geographically dispersed, can provide protection from localised events.