Perhaps the only thing worse than a disaster happening is seeing it coming and knowing nothing can be done to stop it. Businesses along the northeastern seaboard had several days of warning before Hurricane Sandy struck, certainly not enough time to implement a disaster recovery plan from scratch. Even more painful is the understanding that some disaster recovery plans would not be enough; physical backup systems in separate geographical areas may have still suffered the same losses as the home site due to the size of the storm.
Most disasters come with no warning at all. Explosions, power outages, and simple equipment failure can cause the same damage. Operations are down, customers suffer, and revenues tank. Once business recovers the harder work of wooing back customers and convincing new ones about the company’s reliability begins.
Simply doubling up infrastructure and creating physical backups is expensive and time-consuming leading to systems that function inadequately when put into use. Cost cutting means doing without applications and information essential to performance. Lack of testing and differences in tools lead to inefficient work practices during the recovery.
Move into the Cloud
Cloud computing and virtual services eliminate a majority of these concerns. Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS, is a resource-efficient method of allowing business to continue with little to no interruption. Because everything resides in the cloud, no duplicate infrastructure is needed, testing and upgrades are assured, and no applications or information need be out of commission.
DRaaS is a natural extension of the cloud computing phenomenon. Service providers have hardened their security and created tiered services that fit any budget. Companies are embracing cloud computing for a variety of purposes. The flexibility of such services is a huge driver to adoption since only the services needed are active. The rest can be brought online as desired or shut down during idle time.
IT overhead and infrastructure reductions create cash to fuel growth. Cloud services are the perfect vehicle for the rapidly expanding mobile worker and consumer groups. By taking the time upfront to plan and consider operational requirements, disaster recovery can be the key to successful business recovery.
Service Level Agreement Considerations
The Service Level Agreement (SLA) spells out exactly what will and will not be provided with any cloud service. It is crucial to understand the SLA governing disaster recovery, because a disaster is not the time to discover shortcomings in coverage. Performance and productivity need not suffer if due diligence is taken to make a realistic determination of business continuity needs. Planning wisely also keeps SLA costs to a minimum.
Consider these questions:
- What applications must be included?
- What operations are essential for service?
- What information must be easy to access during this time?
- How often are testing and upgrades performed?
- What guarantee of data integrity is offered?
A good service provider will have the experience to help answer these and other questions. They should have an excellent understanding of the extent of disaster recovery needed in a variety of industries. Some providers may even specialize in certain verticals, deepening their ability to determine needs and provide suggestions.
DRaaS Benefits Tower Over Risk
If nothing else, Hurricane Sandy brought home the absolute worst that could happen. Fire, flood, and power failures on such a massive scale are unprecedented but not impossible. Disaster recovery is an essential part of business continuity that must not be put off. The cost of loss far outweighs the cost of DRaaS because, even if such events are rare, all it takes is once. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said we are seeing 100-year hurricane cycles arrive every two years.
With the knowledge that DRaaS, like all cloud services, is a cost-effective way to relieve the worry of business interruptions, large or small, business owners can put a line through this item on the to-do list. With guarantees of integrity and continuity, resources and energy can be channeled into growing the business and keeping customers happy.
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Mike Gault is CEO of Guardtime, a developer of digital signatures that algorithmically prove the time, origin and integrity of electronic data. He started his career conducting research in Japan on the computer simulation of quantum effect transistors. He then spent 10 years doing quantitative financial modeling and trading financial derivatives at Credit Suisse and Barclays Capital. Mike received a Ph.D. in Electronic Engineering from the University of Wales and an MBA from the Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA Program in Hong Kong. You can reach him at Mike.Gault@guardtime.com or visit www.guardtime.com.