Disaster recovery and the cloud
Every business needs a disaster recovery plan that outlines how it can remain operational in the event of a fire or major water damage. A solid plan can also prove essential in the event of a pandemic that reveals your systems’ vulnerabilities to cyberattacks.
“A disaster recovery plan is a little like an insurance policy. It can help organizations get back on their feet and prevent service interruptions,” says Joëlle Cimon, a presale solution architect at NOVIPRO. Cloud computing makes this protection more accessible.
If a disaster affects your hardware, you’ll have a number of urgent questions. A recovery plan should provide the answers. “If your IT infrastructure freezes, how do you restart it? Is it possible to remain operational? What functionalities are critical? What aspects of your operations can be interrupted? For how long?” Cimon explains that you’ll need clear answers to all these questions.
The specialist advises business leaders to determine exactly what needs to be backed up—and how often—in order to maintain their most critical activities. You’ll want to assess the maximum tolerable downtime for each IT asset and the maximum duration between two backups. In other words, can you lose a few hours of data? A full day? Or does your business need data to be backed up continuously?
“Mapping out your needs is more strategic than technical. And it’s a very important step, since every decision comes at a cost.” Given the associated risks and expenses, it makes sense to get expert help. The decisions you make will directly impact the configuration of the backup system your business will rely on in the event of a disaster.
Where to store your data?
Many organizations choose to keep mission-critical data in their own data centers, in what’s called an “on-prem” strategy. But this approach can be too costly for some businesses, since it involves purchasing the infrastructure you’d need in the event of an incident. Plus, Cimon points out that it’s always better to store your backup at a separate site located at least 150 kilometres away. That way, you’re still protected if a disaster, such as an earthquake, strikes your region. “There are also costs that don’t immediately come to mind, like maintenance, updates or travel to and from the site. Not to mention the fact that you start paying on Day 1, even before the equipment is functional.” In short, expenses add up fast.
When you take all these factors into consideration, opting for cloud computing starts to make sense, explains Cimon. “With a cloud service, you get comprehensive infrastructure, including servers and storage units. The provider keeps all the equipment up to date, replaces broken disks, applies security patches, etc.” Plus, since public vendors like Microsoft Azure are responsible for the reliability of their facilities, they make sure their data centers meet industry best practices.
The flexibility factor
Cloud computing is also a more affordable solution because organizations only pay for what they use. So, if you never have to use your backup—which is your goal, after all—your costs will remain low. This flexibility also gives you the opportunity to make changes quickly. “If your needs change and all of the sudden you grow from three departments to eight, you still won’t have to buy any equipment. Your bill will simply reflect your added usage,” explains Cimon. In contrast, if you choose to deploy a strategy on your own networks, it can take several weeks before everything is up and running. With cloud computing, implementing changes is just a matter of a few clicks.
Being able to switch to a cloud environment in the event of a crisis is another advantage. Instead of having to make decisions in panic mode, business leaders will have a certain degree of leeway to assess the situation and the various options available to them. “Clients with ageing infrastructure might even seize the opportunity to update their hardware, since the cloud will keep their business operational in the meantime,” adds Cimon.
Since cloud computing costs less, even small and mid-size businesses can develop a disaster recovery plan. This type of protection is crucial, especially when you consider that a major incident can force unprepared companies into bankruptcy.
Controlling risks and limiting the impact of a disaster is possible—and essential!