Protecting data is an important remit for IT. Cloud computing models can help enormously here, particularly for companies that either can’t or don’t want to run their own secondary IT operations. However, it’s important that people know what they are really buying when they look at using the Cloud for their disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity operations. Not all the options are created equal.

[easy-tweet tweet=”For most companies, storage is storage, regardless of where that data actually physically resides.” user=”MastersIan”]

To help with this, below is a round-up of some of the options that companies have when it comes to using Cloud services. Without going into the details of recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives, it’s important to understand how each of these options work in practice when it comes to recovery of data.

Option #1 – Storage

For most companies, storage is storage, regardless of where that data actually physically resides. Cloud offers the ability to store huge amounts of information over time. Rather than paying for the hardware and managing it yourself, Cloud providers are falling over themselves to offer storage to customers at knock-down prices.

However, while storing data in the Cloud is an option to protect yourself against data loss, it does not include the ability to recover those files later. This still has to be done manually. While uploading of information and files can be automated, that is also not automatically included as standard. The point here is that you will get what you pay for, which in the case of Cloud storage is not much beyond storing the data itself.

Option #2 – Cloud Backup

Backup takes things further than simple storage by adding automation to the process. Each backup can ensure that the latest versions of files are saved, while it can also be possible to host multiple versions of those files too so that issues like corruptions can also be dealt with. The purpose of a backup is to save your bacon when something goes wrong.

That means that recovery has to be considered too. While backups may be stored in the Cloud, it’s important to understand what the recovery process is as well. Customers may be restoring to their own IT assets, to a managed service provider’s kit or to another platform; whichever is the right approach for them.

Option #3 – Cloud Recovery, or DRaaS

Full recovery in the Cloud and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) options cover the ability to use the Cloud as a platform for recovery of workloads. For the customer, there is no requirement to haul out new servers and storage to get their critical applications back up and running quickly; instead, the Cloud provider can start the applications and then point users at these server instances.

The aim here is to make the whole process easier both for the IT team and for the employees and customers as well. Rather than requiring hours for recovery while on-site staff set up and execute the DR plan, new instances can be up and running in minutes while the switchover is seamless. Running in the Cloud can make sure that services remain useful, while the IT team solves the problems and returns systems to normal.

DRaaS offers a better level of service for customers and more automation of processes, so it can attract a more premium price for the service provider.

Getting the right mix

All these services may be combined in order to meet the needs of each customer. For example, some workloads may not suit the DRaaS model as they are on non-x86 hardware. In this case, it’s probably more accurate to describe any continuity or DR offering as a managed service rather than “Cloud.” However, the end result should be the same: easier management of business continuity for the customer.

For businesses looking at how to make use of Cloud for their operations, moving DR into the Cloud can offer the best option when it comes to reducing the potential amount of downtime around any issue. However, it’s also important that this is not seen as just being an insurance option. Instead, it can open up new ways of working that improve the overall performance of IT in general. Knowing your options can help turn this potential into reality.

 VP Cloud & Strategic Alliances 

Ian is Vice President of Cloud & Strategic Alliances at Vision Solutions, and has been advising organisations on their requirements for business continuity, disaster recovery and backup for almost two decades. He has a wide background in the virtualisation, storage and high availability space, working across multiple platforms. More recently he has entered into the world of migration, covering data, server, virtualisation and Cloud.

For the past 4 years he has acted as Director Sales, Northern Europe, and prior to this he was UK Sales and Marketing Director at Double-Take Software, who were acquired by Vision Solutions in 2010. Ian studied at Bangor University, North Wales, and gained a BSC (Hons) in Marine Zoology.

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