Cloud computing delivers superior disaster recovery capabilities

Cloud computing represents one of the most significant technological innovations in recent years. With cloud services in place, businesses can gain a host of new capabilities while improving efficiency and driving down costs.

One of the most significant applications for cloud computing solutions is disaster recovery. As Cloud Tweaks contributor Daniel Price recently highlighted, the cloud has revolutionized disaster recovery for businesses of all sizes and industries.

The old way
To understand why cloud computing has proved to be such a radical improvement in the field of disaster recovery, it is first necessary to consider the strategies companies previously relied on in this area.

Price pointed out that the most common disaster recovery strategies prior to the cloud era were tape-based and disk-based data backup. While certainly providing a fair degree of protection, both of these options have significant drawbacks, as Price explained.

For one thing, the process of setting up a tape- or disk-based disaster recovery plan can be complex, Price asserted. This is particularly true for small or mid-sized firms. Additionally, Price noted that recovering entire distributed, multi-site workloads can be challenging when relying on these methods. Perhaps most notably, tapes and disks are not scalable and must be manually transported to a secure off-site location, from which they must be reclaimed following a disaster.

This poses several problems. Beyond the most obvious, the fact of the matter is that these strategies rely entirely on employees to take specific, recurring actions to ensure that data is effectively backed up. If workers skip a scheduled backup session, a significant amount of information could potentially be lost if a disaster strikes soon.

More seriously, the transportation of backup tapes and disks poses a serious risk. There are many news stories of such items being lost or stolen while in transit. If this happens, the company may run the risk of experiencing a data breach, which can be even more damaging than a disaster.

Cloud benefits
As Price explained, cloud computing improves disaster recovery in all of these ways. Most obviously, the cloud eliminates the need to physically transport data.

"[The] entire virtual server can be copied or backed up to an offsite data center and launched on a virtual host in a matter of minutes," Price wrote. "It means the cloud can offer faster recovery times and multi-site availability at a fraction of the cost of conventional disaster recovery."

Furthermore, cloud computing enables automatic data backup. Rather than requiring an employee to regularly perform this function, data can be sent to an off-site cloud server on a recurring basis, without any human input. This eliminates the risk that a forgetful or lazy worker would miss one or more backup sessions, thereby compromising the completeness of the company's information. This makes cloud-based disaster recovery not only easier and less expensive than legacy options, but also more reliable and comprehensive.

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