Disaster Recovery and the Cloud: A Match Made in Heaven?

A. DeCarlo

A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • High-profile outages, apprehension about data security, and compliance questions make many enterprises wary about moving mission-critical workloads to the cloud.
  • Yet, the flexibility, efficiency, and geographically dispersed nature of the cloud may make it a cost-effective disaster recovery/business continuity option for organizations, large and small.

There is more than a little push/pull element to the cloud.  Businesses are drawn to the flexibility, lower cost, and simplicity which the on-demand model promises.  However, there is enough mystery in the cloud to raise questions about security, as well as enough headline-making outages to put up red flags about stability.  Incidents such as Amazon Web Services’ twin outages this past summer, which impacted both small customers and marquee businesses such as Netflix, make customers of all sizes wary about the cloud.

Yet, for many businesses, the cloud does work.  Every day, millions tap into the model to streamline communications, increase productivity, and cut costs.  Ease of use, quick provisioning, and attractive pricing drown out nagging questions about reliability and security.  That said, organizations remain cautious about what kind of workloads they put in the cloud.  Non-core applications such as messaging and secondary storage are obvious candidates; mission-critical decision applications, not so much.

There are interesting exceptions.  Some businesses are coming to see that one of the more compelling use cases for the cloud is to support business continuity and disaster recovery.  The virtual, geographically distributed nature of the cloud model makes it ‘a natural’ to play a role backing up and restoring critical services.  At a recent customer event focused on disaster recovery, AT&T promoted the cloud as a solid and very cost-effective option for both large, highly-distributed enterprise customers and smaller businesses that previously may have gone without an adequate disaster recovery solution.

AT&T is certainly not alone in promoting the cloud for disaster recovery.  Other providers and their customers are seizing the opportunity to use the cloud as a cheaper alternative to more standard back-up solutions, and in doing so, hoping to attract new prospects.  What do you think?  Would you trust the cloud for disaster recovery?

About Amy Larsen DeCarlo
As Principal Analyst for Security and Data Center Services at Current Analysis, Amy assesses the managed IT services sector, with an emphasis on security and data center solutions delivered through the cloud including on demand application and managed storage offerings.

2 Responses to Disaster Recovery and the Cloud: A Match Made in Heaven?

  1. Certainly more so than the traditional method of backup tapes – a recent TRICARE HIPAA violation involved the theft of 4.9 million health records. Backup tapes are also notoriously error-prone when it comes to recovering data. It’s difficult to generalize all disaster recovery cloud solutions – some will be more comprehensive, and safer, than others (especially if you’re comparing them to Amazon’s public cloud).

    Disaster recovery in the cloud delivers a more accurate and faster data recovery process, since the entire network, servers, OS, data and applications are replicated offsite.

  2. You raise excellent points about issues of backup tapes being lost/stolen/falling off the back of a truck, etc. none of which are problems commonly associated with the cloud; and about all cloud solutions not being created equally. However, there are some serious obstacles in the way of many businesses embracing the cloud for disaster recovery, not the least of which are legal and regulatory compliance questions. These aren’t insurmountable but they are substantial.

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