Station to Station – Cloud DR options and how to make the most of them

“Drink to the men who protect you and I.”

– David Bowie

Disaster Recovery planning is one of those necessary IT investments that cloud computing should make easier for everyone. Rather than automatically having to worry about second site leasing and multiple hardware assets, cloud DR services can take these pain points away while also reducing the cost for a service.

[easy-tweet tweet=”An alternative approach is to protect machines at the Virtual Machine guest level.” user=”MastersIan”]

However, not all cloud DR options are created equal, and decisions made around private cloud installs can affect your options. So how can organisations make the best use of cloud DR to get their data from their own infrastructure and on to the right platform? How can we go from one cloud station to another?

There are a range of cloud platforms out there that have been adopted by Cloud Service Providers (CSP) large and small. The dominant ones are VMware and Microsoft on the proprietary side, while open source options like Xen and OpenStack have also been used to build and run clouds.

When it comes to DR planning and hosting your critical workloads with a CSP, their choices will affect how well they can support your IT and the potential recovery times that can be achieved. If you run on VMware and your preferred partner cloud is based on Hyper-V, then the options will be more limited compared to an “all-VMware” approach.

So does this mean that your choice of platform will limit your options when it comes to working with partners? Not necessarily. There are several routes to using cloud for DR and depending on your existing IT, these can be mixed and matched.

Here is an overview of the options that are open to you:

Work with the same – If your company has committed to a specific virtualisation platform, then working with a CSP on the same platform should be a simple option. However, this can rely on you being on the same version for compatibility, so it is worth aligning any update plans so that compatibility problems don’t arise later.

Match your platforms – for larger organisations, or ones that run a multitude of different platforms, working across multiple platforms may be more difficult. However, it may be possible to find a CSP that can support each of the platforms that are in place as well. For example, if you have both physical and virtual servers in place, then these can be supported in a “like with like” manner.

Mix it up – An alternative approach for virtual platforms is to protect machines at the Virtual Machine guest level. This involves creating copies of each machine and then replicating data to secondary copies at the CSP site. As this works at the guest level, it’s possible to protect across different platforms, such as from VMware virtual machines to copies based on Microsoft Hyper-V.

Go multi-cloud  For those already using a cloud infrastructure, running across several cloud providers can be an option where meeting regulations on protection or spreading across multiple geographic locations are concerned. Data can be taken from one cloud and then sent on to another, or sent from the primary site to two separate cloud providers.

However you decide to look at Cloud DR, there are plenty of options available to you. Protecting your workloads across all the different IT hardware, storage and software platforms is possible using the right approach to replicating your data.

By understanding how existing infrastructure decisions affect DR planning, it’s possible to put better plans in place for the future. In the words of David Bowie, “Drink to the men who protect you and I.”

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