When most people think about disaster recovery they automatically assume it requires a complicated configuration with replicated data on redundant storage systems in two locations some distance apart from each other. There are many details to pay attention to, including storage performance, network performance, available bandwidth and data growth. It costs a lot and takes a long time to implement.
But more and more customers are discovering that it doesn’t have to be that way. Just as cloud technology is changing how developers think about structuring and deploying applications, it is also changing the face of business continuity.
One of the biggest ways DR is changing with cloud technology is by removing the requirement for a separate DR site with all the networking, storage and server equipment. Customers are starting to realize instead that backup and recovery data can be automatically stored at one or more cloud storage service providers, such as AWS, Azure, EMC/ATMOS, Google, HP, Nirvanix and Rackspace. Using the cloud for DR provides the following key benefits
- Transfers infrastructure costs to cloud service providers
- Facilitates DR testing and validation
- Eliminates physical tapes and tape management
- Provides flexibility for the recovery location
- Centralizes DR storage from multiple sites, including ROBOs
- Improves RTO
- Enables recovery-in-cloud
StorSimple makes Cloud-integrated enterprise storage that does all of these things by automating data protection between on-premises storage and cloud storage services.
Transfer infrastructure costs
Equipment and resources for DR have costs with a very small chance of generating a return on the investment. There is no point in owning resources such as storage, networking, servers, racks, power and cabling that you hope to never use. Clearly, the cloud mantra of paying only for what is used applies here. Don’t overpay for insurance.
Of course everything has to work when you need it to. The interesting thing about cloud DR is that it is even easier to test and validate than traditional DR because it can be done without interrupting production systems. Many of our customers at StorSimple cite this as a very important benefit.
One of the worst parts of any recovery operation is anything and everything involving tapes. Naming tapes, loading tapes, unloading tapes, moving tapes, retensioning tapes, copying tapes, deleting tapes, disposing tapes, and all things tape-related. They aren’t needed with cloud DR.
Recovery location flexibility
Cloud-based recovery can happen at any site with a reasonably good Internet connection. Moreover, it can happen at multiple sites, which means it is easier to make contingency plans for multiple-site complications as well as being able to spread the recovery load over more resources.
Centralize DR storage
Another aspect of location flexibility with DR is the ability for companies to store DR data in the cloud from many sites or remote branch offices (ROBOs). While each site or branch office will have a unique URL to store their data, the access to this data is centralized in the cloud where it can all be easily accessed from a single Internet connection in their primary data center. In other words, the DR data from any ROBO can be instantly accessed at headquarters.
The data that is needed to resume operations after a disaster can be limited to only the data that is needed by applications – as opposed to downloading multiple tape images in-full and restoring data from them. This can save weeks during a large scale recovery. Data that is not needed immediately does not consume any bandwidth or other resources that would interfere with the restore process. This approach to DR uses a concept called “the working set”, which is the collection of data that is being used by applications. Working-set based DR is the most efficient way to recover data.
Related to recovery flexibility is the ability to resume operations in the cloud by using of cloud compute services. In this case, the DR data stays in the cloud where it is accessed by cloud-resident applications. Application users connect to the application through a connection to their cloud service provider. The data that stays in the cloud needs to be presented to the application in it’s usual fashion – as a file share, for instance.