Your business data is under constant threat of attack or data loss.

Malicious code, hackers, natural disasters, and even your employees can wipe out an entire server filled with critical files without anyone noticing until it is too late.

Are you willing to fully accept all these risks?

What is cloud disaster recovery?

Cloud-based storage and recovery solutions enable you to backup and restore your business-critical files in case they are compromised.

Thanks to its high flexibility, the cloud technology enables efficient disaster recovery, regardless of the type or intensity of workloads. The data is stored in a secured cloud environment architected to provide high availability. The service is available on-demand, which enables organizations of different sizes to tailor DR solutions to their needs. 

As opposed to traditional solutions, cloud-based disaster recovery is easy to set up and manage. Businesses no longer need to wast hours on transferring backup data from their in-house servers or tape drives to recover after a disaster. The cloud automates these processes, ensuring fast and error-free data recovery.

hardware failure vs power loss

Always be prepared for with proper data security

As companies continue to add new hardware and software applications and services to their daily processes, related security risks increase.  Disasters can occur at any moment and leave a business devastated by massive data loss. When you consider how much they can cost, it is clear why it makes sense to create a data backup and recovery plan. 

Disaster recovery statistics show that 98% of organizations surveyed indicate that a single hour of downtime can cost their business over $100,000. Any amount of downtime can cost a business tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands in man-hour labor spent to recover or redo the work lost.  In some cases, an 8-hour downtime window can cost a small company up to $20k and large enterprises in the tens of thousands.

Considering the figures, it is clear why every second of service or system interruption counts and what is the actual value of having a disaster recovery plan in place.

Cloud recovery helps businesses bounce back from natural disasters, cyber-attacks, ransomware, and other threats that can render all files useless in an instant.  Just by minimizing the time needed to take workloads back online, it directly lowers the cost of a system failure. 

Although most companies and their IT departments are aware of the risk, few make an effort to implement disaster recovery until it is too late. Now, let us take a more in-depth look at how it can translate into business benefits.

man standing in front of a rack of servers in a cloud data center

Benefits of a cloud-based disaster recovery solution

One of the most significant advantages of cloud-based options over standard disaster recovery management is their cost-efficiency.  Traditional backup involves setting up physical servers at a remote location, which can be costly. The cloud, on the other hand, enables you to outsource as many hardware and software resources as you need while paying only for what you use. 

When considering the cost of disaster recovery, it is essential to think beyond the actual price of the solution.

Just think about how much it would cost not to have it.  Small companies can choose a service plan that fits their budget.  The implementation of data management does not require any additional maintenance costs or hiring IT teams. Your provider handles all the technical activities, so you do not have to worry about them. 

Another benefit of cloud-based technology is its reliability.  Service providers have data banks to provide redundancy, which ensures maximum availability of your data.  It also makes it possible for your backups to be restored faster than what would be the case with traditional DR. 

The workload migration and failover in cloud-based environments can take only several minutes. With traditional recovery solutions, this time frame is usually longer since the failover involves physical servers set up in a remote location. Depending on the amount of data you need to back up, you can also choose to migrate data in phases. 

Cloud backup services offer a high degree of scalability. Compared to physical systems, cloud backup is virtually endless.  As organizations grow, their systems can grow with them. All you need to do is extend your service plan with your provider and get additional resources as the need arises. 

disaster recovery and business continuity in the cloud

Failover and failback capabilities in the cloud

When it comes to business-critical data, cloud data backup and recovery provides the most reliable business continuity and failback option.

During a data outage, workloads are automatically shifted to a different location and restarted from there. This process is called failover, and it is initiated when the primary systems experience an issue. After the issues on the original location are resolved, the workloads are failed back to it. This is done using professional disaster recovery and replication tools, which are available from the data center and infrastructure-as-a-service providers. 

Although failover and failback activities can be automated in the cloud, businesses should regularly run tests on designated network locations to make sure there is no impact to live or production network data.

When establishing the data set in a disaster recovery solution, you can select data, virtual machine images, or full applications to fail over. This process may take a while, and this is why organizations need to discuss every step of it with their data center provider. 

man looking for cyber security certifications in the IT industry

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

Part of a cloud disaster recovery plan might include DRaaS disaster recovery as a service. It is designed to help organizations protect themselves against loss of critical business data.

These disaster recovery solutions require a business to help them understand what they need from their service.

A business might identify a general pool of data they need to be backed up, how often it should be backed up.  Further, companies should determine the level of effort required to invest in backing up the data during disaster recovery.  Once a company clarifies the requirements, they can look for DRaaS providers to suit their needs.

How cloud computing backup and recovery is evolving

With cyber attacks and system failures becoming more commonplace, companies are increasingly turning to disaster recovery in the cloud.

As the demand grows, providers continue improving their offerings. Recent reports suggest that the market for backup and DR cloud services is on the rise with a growing number of solutions being offered to companies of different sizes.

The increase in demand also illustrates a greater awareness of their value. Cyber attacks and system failures are occurring on a daily basis and businesses are justifiably concerned about the safety of their data. They need an option that can protect their data in a diversity of scenarios that are putting their daily operations at risk. 

Studies have also found that the principal cause of downtime is the power outage.  This means that no matter how many copies you have of your files in-house, they can all be lost if the power goes out.  With cloud-based DRaaS, your data is saved remotely with reliable power sources.  In most cases, cloud services distribute data to different power grids ensuring sufficient redundancy.

Many older services included physical backups at offsite locations.  Offsite backups are expensive and inefficient as they involve duplicating physical equipment at another location or having a combination of on-premises and physical backups.

maintain business continuity in the cloud

Cloud Service Level Agreements

Service level agreements (SLAs) hold cloud computing disaster recovery providers responsible for all maintenance and management of services rendered. They also include details on recourse and penalty for any failures to deliver promised services.

For example, an SLA agreement can ensure disaster recovery providers reimburse their clients with service credit in the events of a service outage or in case data cannot be recovered in a disaster. From there, customers can use their credits toward their monthly bill or from another service offered by the DR provider even though these credits will not make up the entire loss the business experiences in delayed cloud recovery. 

An SLA also includes guaranteed uptime, recovery point, and recovery time goals.  For example, the latter can be any set time from an hour to 24 hours or more depending on the amount of data to be backed up and recovered. More specifically, this is defined in terms of RTOs and RPOs, which are essential concepts in disaster recovery. 

The recovery time objective (RTO) is the acceptable period for applications to be down.  Recovery point objectives (RPO) are the acceptable period data is down for. Based on these two criteria, companies define their needs and can choose an adequate solution.  

man drawing an image of a cloud with the words disaster recovery

Define Your Recovery Requirements 

A large part of any cloud backup and disaster recovery plan is the amount of bandwidth and network capacity required to perform failover.  

Sufficient analysis of how to make data available when needed is essential for choosing the best fit for a company.  Part of the considerations should be if the network and bandwidth capacity can handle redirecting all users to the cloud at once. 

Another consideration for hybrid environments is how to restore data from the cloud to an on-premise data center network and how long it will take to perform this.  Backup sets for recovery will need to be designed as part of any disaster recovery solution as well.

When defining these requirements, RTOs and RPOs play a major role.  Both of these goals are included as part of the business impact analysis.  

Recovery points are the points at which data must be recovered. This may include frequency of backup as it is based on the methods the data is used.  For instance, information and files that are frequently updated might have a recovery point of a few minutes while less essential data would need to be recovered within a few hours. 

Both recovery time and recovery point objectives represent the impact to the bottom line.  The smaller these values are, the higher the cost of the DRaaS.

Part of the recovery time and recovery point should include a schedule for automated backups.  Keep in mind the difference in the length required to backup data versus applications and create two schedules or note the differences in one schedule.

Cloud Disaster Recovery Management

Creating a custom cloud backup & disaster recovery plan

There is no magic blueprint for back up and disaster recovery solutions. Each company must learn more about the industry best practices and determine the essential workloads required to continue operations after a data loss or other catastrophe. 

The overall principle used to derive an IT recovery plan is triage.  This is the process of creating a program that begins with identification and prioritization of services, applications, and data and determining an appropriate amount of downtime before the disaster causes a significant impact on business operations.  These efforts include developing a set of recovery time objectives that will define what type of solution a business needs.

By identifying essential resources and appropriate downtime and recovery, a business has a solid foundation for a cloud DR solution.  

All critical applications and data must be included in this blueprint. On the other hand, to minimize costs and ensure a fast recovery when the strategy is put into practice, a business should remove all irrelevant applications and data. 

After the applications and data are identified and prioritized,  the recovery time objectives are defined. The most cost-effective way of achieving the goals should use a separate method for each application and service.  

Some businesses may require a separate method for data and applications running in their private or public cloud environments.  Most likely, this scenario would return different means to protect application clusters and data with parallel recovery time objectives.

Once the design for disaster recovery is final, periodic tests should be performed to ensure it works as needed. Many companies have backups in place but are not sure how to use them when they need them. This is why you need to regularly test both internal and external procedures, and even update them as needed. 

A general recommendation is to test your systems on an annual basis, carefully following each step of the outlined process. However, in companies that have dynamic multi-cloud strategies or those that are expanding at an unsteady pace, these tests may need to be performed even more frequently. As new systems or infrastructure upgrades are implemented, the disaster recovery plan should be updated to reflect the changes.  

It is also important to use a cloud monitoring tool.

selecting the right IT vendor for cloud services

Options for disaster data recovery in the cloud 

Data centers offer varying options businesses can choose from for data protection.

Managed applications are popular components of a disaster recovery cloud strategy.  In this case, both primary production data and backup cases are stored in the cloud and managed by a provider.  This allows companies to reap the benefits of the cloud in a usage-based model while moving away from dependency on on-premises backups.  

A managed or hosted recovery solution brings you a comprehensive cloud-based platform with the needed hardware and software to support your operations. With this option, data and applications remain on-premises, and only data is backed up on the cloud infrastructure and restored as needed.  Such a solution is more cost-effective than a traditional option such as local, offsite data backup. However, the process of recovery for applications may be slow. 

Some application vendors may already offer cloud backup services. Businesses should check with their vendors if this is an option to make the implementation as easy as possible. Another viable option is to back up to and restore from the cloud infrastructure.  Data is restored to virtual machines in the cloud rather than on-premises servers, requiring cloud storage and cloud computing resources.  

The restore process can be executed when a disaster strikes, or it can be recurring.  Recurring backups ensure data is kept up-to-date through resource sharing and is essential when recovery goals are short.

For applications and data with short or aggressive objectives, replication to virtual machines in the cloud is a viable DRaaS service. By replicating to the cloud, you can ensure data and applications are protected both in the cloud and on-premises.  

Replication is viable for cloud VM to cloud VM and on-premises to cloud VM.  The products in the replication to VMs are based on continuous data protection.  

DR in the cloud

Getting Started With Cloud Disaster Recovery

After a business has determined which type of recovery solution they want, the next step is to make an overview of the options available with different providers and data centers.  

The key to finding a solution that suits the business needs is discussing options with multiple service providers.  

Many vendors offer variances in their pricing packages which may include a certain number of users, application backup, data backup, and frequency of backup.

The only efficient way to choose a managed cloud backup and disaster recovery provider is to assess your needs adequately. Discuss needs with all stakeholders in the business in all departments to discover critical data and applications to ensure business continuity.  

Determine recovery time and point objectives and create a schedule with appropriate downtime for data and applications.  Next, consider the budget allotted for disaster recovery. 

Examine various options to find the best one for your business.