In the dark old days of disaster recovery, companies had to rely on manual options, physically shipping tapes offsite and hoping there would never be a need to use them. More functional disaster recovery options were expensive, involving a “hot” backup site owned or rented by the customer. Today, thanks to cloud computing, the disaster recovery landscape has changed.
Hybrid cloud options are revolutionizing disaster recovery. This computing model combines infrastructure as a service (IaaS) resources at the customer’s own site with remote resources offered by a cloud service provider. It provides the perfect platform for a modernized disaster recovery option. There is even a name for it: disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). This is one of the most common “quick win” use cases for companies exploring hybrid cloud setups.
Three big benefits of hybrid backup
As with all IT processes, the devil is in the details. Companies can succeed with DRaaS by following some basic best practices. One of the first is to create a disaster recovery system that takes advantage of hybrid cloud infrastructure to support fast recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objective (RPOs).
Because remote cloud services offer both computing and storage resources, both the applications and the data can be remotely replicated. Applications in the cloud can provide quick failover options in the event of a local site outage. This means companies now have the ability to immediately restore data from a cloud environment to a local site in the event of a disaster.
Getting data into the cloud in the first place may be a problem if data volumes are heavy. One option involves shipping it physically to the cloud service provider for manual installation. Some providers offer specific solutions for this, such as the Amazon®Snowball appliance, for example. Once the data is there, a well-managed disaster recovery solution can constantly replicate data between the local and remote cloud infrastructures.
Don’t forget security and compliance when planning your hybrid disaster recovery solution. Someone else will be processing potentially sensitive data of yours, which could carry implications under the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation rules. Encrypt your data as a matter of course. Managed backup services can include this option, along with compression and de-duplication services, out of the box.
Companies using hybrid DRaaS for failover disaster recovery services should examine their private and public cloud components for any infrastructure differences. Even if using the same virtualized stack, the chances are that there may be some configuration differences between the two. It’s important to ensure that these do not present any problems when trying to use virtual machines for failover in the public cloud.
Differences may extend beyond cloud-ready applications to legacy software not easily replicated in a cloud environment. Ensure that your disaster recovery setup accommodates legacy backups, as it may not be possible to failover these applications in the same way as other software.
For these reasons, testing the disaster recovery plan is as important as ever in a hybrid cloud environment. A fully replicated failover-ready DRaaS environment enables IT teams to test the plan more easily than one that needs you to restore data from backup media before you can use it.
Companies that create DRaaS in a hybrid cloud environment can turn disaster recovery into a service for internal customers. A well-configured self-service portal hosted in the private cloud could enable customers to choose from a variety of disaster recovery or business continuity options, ranging from a gold service with very short RPO and RTO, to silver and bronze services, with chargeback mechanisms.
The best part of all? You won’t have to worry about whether those backup tapes are actually going to work. That peace of mind is well worth the investment.
Danny Bradbury has been a technology journalist since 1989. He writes for titles including the Guardian newspaper, and Canada’s National Post. Danny specialises in areas including cybersecurity, and also cryptocurrency. He authors the About Bitcoin website, and also wrote a regular blog on technology for children called Kids Tech News. You can follow Danny on Twitter® at @DannyBradbury
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