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How Has Cloud Changed Data Protection and Disaster Recovery?

With the growing importance of data and greater platform diversification, data today is not just housed within the hallowed portals of the data center but also outside it, in the cloud. As we grow increasingly dependent on data, the cloud provides businesses access to flexible storage without the need for heavy IT and infrastructure investments.

According to a research conducted by IDC, our digital universe is expected to double every two years and will presumably cross 40 trillion gigabytes by 2020. The report further goes on to say that nearly 40% of the information of this digital universe will go through the cloud at some point in its journey. Further, almost 90% of all organizations have apps running in the cloud or plan to use cloud apps over the next year. Recently Forbes also highlighted that more than “60% of enterprises will have at least half of their infrastructure on cloud-based platforms” by 2018.

Clearly, with growing dependence on data and large volumes of the same being stored in the cloud, organizations have to look at robust disaster recovery and data protection models as old data protection and disaster recovery models will not only prove to be inefficient but also costly in this new environment

What do data protection and disaster recovery in the cloud mean?

IDC estimates that over 50% of organizations do not have adequate disaster recovery plans. According to this research, the average cost of downtime can be anywhere between $100,000 per hour, to as much as $1.6 million per hour!

While organizations have been looking at the cloud for cost savings and scalability, data protection and disaster recovery are two of the greatest use cases for the cloud. According to a Gartner prediction by 2020, almost 90% of disaster recovery operations will be run in the cloud. So what makes the cloud the best solution for data protection and disaster recovery?

With changes in workload protection mechanisms and workload recovery demands along with the growing volume of data and the consequent storage protection, organizations are looking at modernizing data protection and disaster recovery. Organizations need the capability to enable complete virtual machine backups by providing hypervisor-specific APIs. Since the cloud stores sensitive data, the primary topics of discussion in the conversation involving data protection include backup, recovery, business continuity and disaster recovery become. A ‘backup’ is the data protection copy of data derived from the production copy and is used to restart an application correctly. Disaster recovery encapsulates the recovery of the entire relevant IT infrastructure at a remote site when the primary site is rendered unavailable.

The cloud takes a very different approach to disaster recovery. Since disaster recovery can be complex, expensive, and time-consuming, organizations are looking at cloud-based disaster recovery. Unlike traditional disaster recovery models, in the cloud, the entire server including the operating systems, the applications, patches and all data are captured into a single software bundle or virtual server. Since the virtual server is hardware independent, it can be copied, transferred or backed up easily to an offsite data center without needing to reload each component of the server. This reduces data recovery times significantly as the virtual server can be restarted on a virtual host in no time in the event of a disaster. This also means that organizations no longer need to bother about their tape backups.

Advantages of data protection and disaster recovery in the cloud

Prompt recovery

The cloud is making cold site disaster recovery antiquated. It is paving the way for warm site disaster recovery that enables backup of critical servers within a matter of minutes on a shared or private cloud host. This SAN to SAN replication was not possible with traditional disaster recovery systems owing to cost and testing challenges. Additionally, disaster recovery in the cloud also delivers multi-site availability, rapid failover to the disaster recovery site and the capability to return to the production site when the disaster event or disaster recovery test is over.

Cost-effectiveness

Many organizations view disaster recovery and data protection an expensive and complex affair and rightfully so. However, with the cloud, businesses can get the advantage of reliable backup options to protect their IT assets without the worry of heavy capital investments. The ‘pay as you go’ cloud model helps in keeping the Total Cost of Ownership at a minimum and helps businesses fine-tune costs and performance of their assets for the disaster recovery platform. More critical applications can be bumped up with more resources to ensure that its business as usual in the event of a disaster while the resource allocation of less critical applications can be tuned down easily. Along with this, since the assets are stored within the cloud, organizations do not need to invest time processing and recovering everything from the cloud to the on-premise disaster recovery center and hence can do away with the costs associated with the same. If the recovery is limited to only critical data, the costs go down further.

Flexibility

One of the greatest advantages of leveraging the cloud for data protection and disaster recovery is that cloud disaster recovery facilities can easily be moved to different parts of the world. This flexibility relieves organizations of choosing a location for a disaster recovery facility and hope that a disaster does not strike at that location. For example, many organizations affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 discovered that their disaster recovery facilities were also in the path of the storm as were their operations, the impact of which on business was crippling.

Scalability

Increasing and decreasing storage capacity according to demand becomes easy with the cloud. Organizations, thus, do not need to worry about committing to a certain amount of storage for a particular period of time and also worry about if they are exceeding those requirements. With the cloud, they can scale their storage requirements to meet the demands of the business.

Further with growing cloud adoption, the concerns about data security in the cloud are also on a decline. Today the cloud uses several encryption techniques to ensure data security and integrity making it a viable data protection and disaster recovery model. Lastly, by moving data protection and disaster recovery to the cloud, organizations give themselves the advantage of business continuity – the capability to conduct business as usual even in disruptive circumstances. The cloud helps businesses recover swiftly and efficiently irrespective of the extent of the disaster. This helps organizations build business resilience to ensure that the business remains stable even during disruptive events.

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