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What Role Does the Cloud Play in Disaster Recovery?

Cloud Computing for Disaster Recovery

In the business world, disaster recovery is perhaps the most well-known IT strategy for ensuring business continuity. This because is irrevocable data loss is the most well-known threat to the continuity of any business whose most valuable asset is computerized data, which is something that practically every disaster recovery plan that involves digital assets is designed to safeguard.

Many third party IT companies provide offsite data storage as a stand-alone service that can also be integrated into a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. In either case, data is stored in a private cloud at a remote location, where it is unlikely to be threatened by a disaster that strikes the client’s location and causes data loss due to the destruction of the IT system.

The Role the Cloud Plays in Recovery

To fully appreciate the role of cloud computing for disaster recovery, it’s helpful to know the basic provisions of a recovery plan and how they necessitate each other. Although cloud based disaster recovery is typically a customized service that reflects a client’s unique needs, there are four elements that comprehensive recovery plans commonly contain.

1. Offsite Data Storage

Data is migrated to an offsite data center cloud to make it “redundant” to data at the client’s location. If the storage provider offers multiple layers of redundancy across several locations, it could literally require an intercontinental disaster to erase a client’s data from the map. With the advancement of cloud software and solid state hard drives, offsite data storage is more reliable than ever.

2. Alternate Business Location

Disasters that destroy IT systems range from burst plumbing pipes to typhoons. To account for the possibility of an entire building being unusable after a disaster, recovery plans often contain a provision for temporarily setting up business elsewhere. This strategy is especially important for regional and local businesses that earn revenue from a small number of locations.

3. Emergency Backup Hardware

The alternate business location needs hardware to recreate the IT system. When a disaster strikes, hardware is deployed to the temporary location, with the goal of having the system up and running again within 48-72 hours. However, because turnaround time depends on the logistics of the plan in question, a provider of cloud computing for disaster recovery should provide a custom time estimate.

4. Temporary Backup Staff

Because a disaster could prevent employees from reporting to work, a disaster recovery plan may provide for temporary replacement staff to occupy the alternate business location. When a disaster removes even one integral employee from the equation, this element of the plan becomes as important as any other. To preserve business continuity, the business needs a backup who can hit the ground running — and fast.

Statistics Supporting Implementation

Most companies and organizations are statistically unlikely to experience a disaster that causes significant data loss, but the grim outlook for parties that lose data without a recovery plan in place is enough to make any business think twice. According to the U.S. Bureau of labor, “93% of businesses without disaster recovery who experience a data disaster are out of business within one year.”

A healthy business closing its doors within a year of a data disaster may sound improbable. However, when you consider the high cost of downtime that makes data is inaccessible, the statistic makes sense. International Data Corp calculates that, “Companies lose an average of $84,000 for every hour of downtime.” Other sources put the cost of downtime as high as $90,000 an hour.

The exorbitant cost of inaccessible data is why cloud computing for disaster recovery providers strive to have data accessible through the cloud within 48-72 hours of a disaster. Spending even a single business week disconnected from crucial data can put a significant dent in revenue that crushes quarterly results. Again, this is especially the case for local and regional businesses that generate revenue from a small number of locations.

Implementing Cloud Based Disaster Recovery

Once in place, a cloud based disaster recovery plan is designed to be deployed swiftly. However, implementing the plan can require several steps that justify a proactive approach.

For many entities, developing a recovery plan begins with an in-house initiative that is brought before company decision makers. Although management may know the general value of using cloud based disaster recovery services, a presentation that details the specific risks for the business — as well as a plan that effectively mitigates the risks — must be presented.

Consulting a disaster recovery provider can help provide technical information that supports implementing the plan, the timeline and cost for implementation, and the turnaround time for having the cloud-based IT system up and running following a disaster. In addition to helping execute the plan in the wake of a catastrophe, the provider can be a strong ally for promoting the initiative for the plan.

Properly Supporting the Recovery Initiative

When presented for evaluation, a cloud computing for disaster recovery initiative generally entails at least four provisions:

  1. Creating a detailed plan that defines the recovery strategy
  2. Defining data in order of importance to recover the most vital data first
  3. Establishing a recovery window that supports business continuity
  4. Testing the plan in a created, real-world scenario to gauge effectiveness

If your business lacks a cloud-based recovery plan, it’s important to remember that securing data offsite is only one element of a successful recovery strategy. In addition to being accessible, data must be accessible quickly, and other parts of the plan must harmonize to ensure that data resumes supporting the business process within a narrow timeframe.

Need Cloud Computing for Disaster Recovery?

For additional information about cloud based disaster recovery, and to learn how NIC can help you develop, support, and implement a plan that is tested for success, contact us today for a consultation. With critical data securely stored in the cloud and ready to access if a disaster strikes, your business can avoid the crushing consequences of permanent data loss.

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