Disasters that disrupt business operations and cause data loss can happen at any time. Whether it’s an unexpected network outage or a natural disaster that shuts down a data center, having a well-defined cloud disaster recovery (DR) plan can help minimize service interruption and restore critical services quickly.
A good DR plan is essential for organizations to minimize downtime and loss of revenue. It also enables organizations to comply with regulatory requirements. However, creating a comprehensive DR plan is difficult, and the cost of setting up on-premises infrastructure can be expensive. Cloud disaster recovery provides an affordable alternative and reduces the time to restore business services following a disruption, allowing organizations to meet their RTO and RPO goals.
Unlike traditional DR, which relies on dedicated servers staged with the operating system and application software and patching of the production environment, cloud disaster recovery uses virtual server images that can be deployed in minutes in case of a disruption. It combines all the hardware and OS, applications, and patches into one software bundle or virtual server image in storage to ensure a rapid recovery from a failure.
There are several methodologies businesses can use for cloud DR, including backup and restore and warm standby. Backup and restore is the simplest, most inexpensive DR option, with minimal downtime and data loss. It involves regularly backing up an application and restoring it to the cloud after a disaster occurs. Warm standby is more expensive but reduces downtime and data loss by keeping duplicate data and applications with a cloud DR provider. It works by transferring only changed data after a backup to the cloud and redirecting traffic and IP addresses to those duplicate resources when the primary site is unavailable.
Other approaches include cold DR, which maintains a scaled-down version of the production environment in the cloud with different versions running in different regions. It is the most cost-effective approach and offers fast recovery, but it can impose significant downtime for the applications being moved to the backup site. Cold DR can also be challenging for organizations with compliance obligations, as the organization may not be allowed to store sensitive data outside its immediate data centers or in any resource that isn’t under its direct control.
Cloud DR solutions provide a wide range of benefits, including scalability and flexibility, geographic redundancy, and speedy recovery. However, the risk of unauthorized access and misuse is always present as your organization hands over data to third parties. This can be mitigated by choosing zero-knowledge providers who maintain a high level of confidentiality. In addition, it is vital to create protocols and contingencies for bringing your failover environment back to the primary environment, which is known as “failback” in DR lingo.