bright ideas

Why the cloud just makes sense for disaster recovery


There are countless options when it comes to disaster recovery, that cover the gamut from a pile of unlabelled backup tapes in a charred cardboard box, to synchronously replicated duplicates of every last system in your estate, all at a secondary site. And so, with recent access to vCloud Air we've been doing some thinking - and disaster recovery in the cloud really does make the most sense.

vCloud Air is the latest product launch from VMware, providing a public cloud completely based on the vSphere you know and love. It is ready to serve a wide range of use cases including high-performance production workloads for both legacy and next generation applications, test and development, as well as disaster recovery needs.

In our opinion cloud-based disaster recovery presents a safe, rapid and effective way for organisations to protect their IT services from downtime and loss of data. It solves the problems many companies run into when looking to establish a disaster recovery capability - a lack of internal expertise or budget to implement the disaster recovery plan they require.

Using vCloud Air we believe that businesses now have a realistic and viable option for disaster recovery in the cloud, as opposed to building a secondary disaster recovery site on-premises. There are parallels to this emerging capability when we think back to the early days of virtualisation. Then it used to be linguistically fashionable to describe how Type 1 hypervisors (like VMware ESX) 'democratised' disaster recovery. What was meant by this was that the infrastructure itself could now provide disaster recovery for any operating system and application, where previously this capability was only coded for premium enterprise applications. Now the cloud democratises disaster recovery even further, where traditional disaster recovery solutions have been either too costly or too complex to implement and maintain.

Cloud-based disaster recovery allows you to protect the critical elements of your production environment without the expense and management burden of replicating it to a secondary site operated and maintained by core IT staff. It's an effective and more defensible way to improve upon existing disaster recovery plans - or get a new plan off the drawing board, off the bottom of your very long list of projects and into operation - with minimal cost and resources.

The conditions are right to make cloud-based disaster recovery a viable reality now. Capital expenditure can be avoided, elasticity and scalability are baked in, and flexible subscription terms are available for various services. Even the traditional Achilles heel of WAN connectivity has matured to the point where customers can subscribe to self-service trans-Tasman links, dialing up bandwidth as the consumption of services ramp up (rather than committing up front) from the likes of Megaport and Vibe.

Top five reasons organisations choose cloud-based disaster recovery

If you are thinking about changing, replacing or establishing your disaster recovery solution, consider these five reasons for moving to the cloud:

1. Get underway easily

Developing, deploying and managing a traditional disaster recovery plan can be complex and require time, budget, and staff that you may not have. And let's face it, this is the undifferentiated, keeping the lights-on type of IT. The expectations of IT from the business continue to rise inexorably, and these days disaster recovery is just considered a 'dial-tone' service for IT - in other words, it's just expected.

vCloud Air provides an easy way to get started with an effective disaster recovery plan - without investing in any hardware, without hiring and training new specialists, and without having to invest in a secondary site. What's more, there are also simple options for offline data transfer, for the initial ingest of large volumes of data.

2. Flexible, cost effective

The costs of traditional disaster recovery solutions can force you to make trade-offs on what you can afford to protect versus what you need to protect. This can leave your organisation vulnerable to having inadequate protection. vCloud Air addresses variable capacity requirements needed to support common disaster recovery use cases, such as replication, failover, and recovery, at a significantly reduced price point over traditional in-house disaster recovery solutions or managed service alternatives.

3. Simplified environment

Creating a comprehensive disaster recovery plan can be complex, whether you are trying to do it yourself or are choosing a managed service provider. vCloud Air is built on vSphere Replication and enables you to consolidate your IT needs across your data centre, hybrid cloud, and disaster recovery plans. This means you can leverage the same tools, skill sets, and processes that you already use.

4. Management consistency

The ongoing maintenance and monitoring of a disaster recovery solution can require new training and skills, and introduce time-consuming manual processes. vCloud Air disaster recovery provides a single interface and common management with your onsite VMware environment. You'll get up and running faster as your administrators can use the UI that they are most familiar and comfortable with to manage your disaster recovery environment.

5. Self-service protection and testing

What's the second hardest thing about disaster recovery after being able to afford it? Yeah that's right - it's testing it! With disaster recovery solutions, the calibre of the support available and the ability to test recovery procedures can often make the difference in the degree of confidence you have in recovering your systems. vCloud Air enables self-service protection, and comprehensive failover and failback workflows for each virtual machine. You have control over what to protect and when. You can set custom Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) per virtual machine for fine-grained control over replication frequency based on business application priorities.

And finally, have you always been a little troubled about the prospect of how to access your recovered systems in the event of DR invocation? I mean, if an event is significant enough to impact a site, you have probably lost a whole lot of desktops as well. How about expanding the scope of your DR plan by including the ability to spin up a fleet of virtualised desktops in the cloud as well, with Horizon Air? More on that later...

Author: James Knapp

James focuses on the cloud technology landscape, developing cloud strategies for our clients, as well as being a regular conference presenter on new IT service delivery models.

25 May 2015 / 0 Comments