If a disaster struck your company, could you recover? Do you have a place to store your data so it’s safe and accessible, and do you have a way to recover it after a disaster without bankrupting the company?
Investing in redundant infrastructure and hiring specialized staff to protect yourself is hard to justify in today’s business climate, especially when the rising cost of disaster recovery pushes other critical projects to the back burner. But the answer may be in the cloud, says Ram Shanmugam, senior director of product management for Recovery Services at SunGard Availability Services.
“Recovery in the cloud is offering customers reliable and cost-effective options to increase application availability,” says Shanmugam. “It’s no longer a matter of do you need higher application availability but how can you do it effectively and efficiently compared to traditional recovery models.”
Smart Business spoke with Shanmugam about the advantages of outsourcing disaster recovery to the cloud.
Why is the cloud advantageous?
Organizations require consistent and reliable availability of their recovery infrastructure to match the business value of their full range of applications and data. These range from mission-critical to less critical. Disruption and outages in the availability of mission-critical applications do the most damage to organizations financially and in terms of impact on quality of service, lost reputation and competitive advantage. To design and implement a recovery plan, the IT organization must determine the recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) for each mission-critical application. The RPO is the amount of down time and data loss the company is willing to sustain after a disaster, and the RTO establishes the timeline and priority for restoring critical business processes and applications. Finally, to meet the RPO and RTO requirements, the IT organization must invest in space, capital equipment and software, and hire experienced staff to replicate or back up data, then try to ensure recovery by executing rigorous testing protocols.
In contrast, cloud-based recovery offers a reliable and affordable alternative for achieving RPO and RTO requirements and ensuring higher availability for mission-critical applications. Cloud-based recovery solutions offer access to low-cost or pay-as-you-use recovery infrastructure, which can be provisioned on demand to recover mission-critical applications in the wake of failure events, with sufficient security and guaranteed performance.
What should executives consider before outsourcing disaster recovery to the cloud?
- Cost savings is a significant driver.
- RPO/RTO. Companies often forsake their RPO/RTO requirements because in-house solutions are cost prohibitive. The cloud offers the ability to significantly improve application availability in a cost-effective manner.
- Reliability. The ROI of a recovery environment is in the reliability of its performance at the time of disaster. Compared to in-house solutions, managed cloud solutions offers higher reliability in recovery of mission-critical applications after failure events, with sufficient security and guaranteed performance.
- Skilled resources. In-house recovery solutions require investment in talent to support the infrastructure. In contrast, the cloud eliminates the need for that investment, freeing up resources to focus on value creation.
Does migrating to the cloud create a loss of flexibility?
No. In fact, the cloud allows IT organizations to optimize their investment and resources by offering configurable options to meet the individual availability objectives of each application or business process.
IT organizations also have the flexibility to customize a cost-effective hybrid recovery environment by integrating cloud with dedicated internal infrastructure to support availability of large, complex applications and business processes.
What should CIOs consider when evaluating prospective partners?
Ask these questions to evaluate potential cloud partners when considering cloud-based recovery options.
- Does it offer meaningful service level guarantees for recovery of mission-critical applications? Can it reliably recover mission-critical applications in the wake of failure?
- Does it support heterogeneous computing platforms (e.g. Windows, Linux) and hybrid architectures that meet the recovery needs of the entire IT portfolio?
- Does the staff have hands-on disaster recovery experience? Has it recovered from a disaster? Does it understand the entire disaster recovery lifecycle? Can it provide audit-ready test reports?
- Can the partner support a broad portfolio of RPO/RTO requirements in its cloud solution? Does it provide options for high availability, as well as less critical applications, in a heterogeneous environment?
- What is the range of options supported for moving data to the cloud? Does it use monitoring and automation tools to ensure rapid and effective response to failures?
- Can the cloud partner handle your current and future needs? Can it expand and contract on demand, handle sudden growth or support large amounts of application data?
- Can clients pay as they go?
Is data in the cloud secure?
A cloud partner should offer multiple levels of security and service options to fit your needs. For those concerned that some data are too sensitive for the cloud, despite security, they can use a private cloud, while selecting a shared cloud for everything else.
One size doesn’t fit all, so a cloud partner should offer a range of private, hybrid and physical environments to make sure your data is secure and can be recovered after a disaster.
Ram Shanmugam is the senior director of product management for Recovery Services at SunGard Availability Services. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.