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The Cloud – What it means for Backup and Disaster Recovery

The Cloud – What it means for Backup and Disaster Recovery

In the last issue, we spoke about how there are two types of cloud, private clouds and public clouds, and that in all likelihood, whether in personally or in your business, you’re likely already a cloud user. Congratulations!

We concluded by saying that one of the most compelling, and high value uses of the cloud for small and mid sized businesses like yours, is for backup and disaster recovery.

On the surface, moving backup and DR to the cloud seems pretty obvious… from tapes, CDs and DVDs, those pesky, moody, clumsy, breakable pre 2011 media, to the cloud.. that off-site, limitless and “forever” available super power.

That could be the end of this issue, but like so many other too good to be true solutions, the devil lies in the details.  Let’s start by looking at 3 issues to consider when thinking about the cloud for backup and DR:

  1. Internet: Availability, Reliability and Bandwidth at your location or locations.
  2. Architecture: Are your servers physically in your office (or offices), in the cloud or some combination?
    Do your users store data on their local PCs, notebooks and tablets?
    Is your workforce mobile?
  3. Tolerance: How long could you tolerate being without your data… minutes, hours, days, weeks?

How you use the cloud as a tool for backup and disaster recovery will depend on your answer to these 3 questions.

We have clients that are asset managers in the financial community. They are located in the heart of the downtown, and they have told us that if a disaster struck, they couldn’t be down for more than 5 minutes.

We also have not-for-profit clients that provide much needed services to the community. They conduct fundraising activities, hold events and provide face to face services to the constituents they serve.  They’re mostly located in rural or lower rent (low internet) areas. Their customers wouldn’t be up in arms if systems went down for a day or two – even a week.

So those are two ends of the spectrum.  Most small and mid sized enterprises lie somewhere in between.  Most companies, when first asked will say they have lots of reliable internet bandwidth,  and use a combination of on-site servers (such as for file and print sharing) and cloud based applications (such as Microsoft Office 365 or Dropbox).  The biggest issue they toil over, is how long they can be down.  Typically, a conversation starts with… “we can’t be down for more than 15 minutes, an hour at the most”. After reflection, they realize they can probably muddle by without systems for a day or two. After all, we’re talking about a pretty unlikely business disrupting event like a fire, flood or earthquake…

But with the awesome power of cloud, why wouldn’t every organization expect the immediate ability to recover its data from the cloud nearly instantly?

The answer is as you might expect… cost and complexity.

In the next issue, we’ll describe a typical business… a business that has good, reliable access to the internet, would like to use the cloud for backup and DR and could tolerate being down anywhere from a few hours to a day or two.

We’ll, describe a simple (at least it’s simple to us) 3 tiered cloud backup / disaster Recovery architecture that combines local disk backups, imaged private cloud server backups, and long term “forever backups” to deliver on the cloud’s backup / DR promises of scalability, ubiquity and reliability.

And before we close, one more thing to think about.

Even if you don’t think you need a cloud based multi-tiered backup, if you’re publicly traded, you have a savvy board or savvy clients, or if you have a bank loan, these important “outsiders” may soon compel you to show them your tested, documented backup DR strategy in order to keep their business relationship with you.

Backup and DR accountability to the outside world a trend that’s picking up steam. Why not get on-board with cloud backup and DR before you’re caught having to explain why you’re not there already?



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