When Hurricane Sandy hit in late October, it wasn’t only the people along the East Coast who felt her wrath. As New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were darkened by power outages, computer users and businesses everywhere also suffered a blackout of sorts. Data centers were knocked off-line, taking popular websites down with them. The outages also meant that some remote employees didn’t have access to their company network.
Cloud computing has benefits in a number of situations, but it is especially during a natural disaster that its value really shines through. The cloud can be advantageous in protecting data loss during a disaster by allowing organizations to perform offsite data replication to a cloud storage provider, Chris Trautwein, chief information security officer with (ISC)2 pointed out. The cloud can also position organizations to continue to use that data in the disaster’s aftermath.
“Organizations may want to consider cloud providers with ‘disaster recovery as a service’ (DRaaS) offerings,” Trautwein said. “DRaas offerings provide managed disaster recovery solutions that allow organizations to replicate critical applications running at their datacenter to a cloud hosting provider. In traditional disaster recovery scenarios, organizations would typically have a large capital expenditure to acquire redundant hardware and redundant facilities that would only be used in the event of a disaster. With the cloud-based approach, organizations can eliminate this large capital expenditure (CAPEX) and instead pay a monthly service charge (OPEX) for use of a DRaaS service. This provides more cost certainty and more flexibility.”
Since we know that disasters hit data centers, too, it is a good idea to consider a cloud vendor with multiple data center locations, which can offer services to replicate data between their data centers.
“Enterprise customers should strongly consider investigating offerings by their hosting providers to determine what service offerings are available. In many cases, organizations may opt to ‘fail-over’ from a data center that is in harm’s way to an alternate data center in a more secure location,” said Trautwein.
Every organization should determine how downtime would affect them in terms of both direct and indirect costs and then compare those costs to the costs of various hosting provider options. Organizations should also try to determine the probability that a disaster would affect their hosting provider location and use that figure along with the cost of downtime and the cost of data replication or failover alternatives to determine the right amount to invest in a disaster recovery strategy.
“Think about this like purchasing an insurance policy,” said Trautwein. “How much coverage do you want to have; how likely are you to be affected by the negative event; and how much are you willing to pay?”
About The Guest Author: Sue Proemba blogs for Rackspace Hosting, a service leader in cloud computing and a founder of OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system. The San Antonio-based company provides Fanatical Support to its customers and partners, across a portfolio of IT services, including Managed Hosting and Cloud Computing.
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