What is Cloud Disaster Recovery? Building a Plan for Success
In this guide, we will be discussing (click on link to jump to section):
I. What is Cloud Disaster Recovery
II. How Does Cloud Disaster Recovery Differ from Traditional Disaster Recovery?
III. Why Cloud Disaster Recovery is Crucial for Your Business
IV. Five Benefits of Having a Disaster Recovery Strategy in Place
V. What is an IT Disaster Recovery Plan?
VI. How to Design a Cloud Disaster Recovery Plan
VII. How Faction’s Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery Can Protect Your Business
Let’s dive in:
As more industries depend on IT infrastructure, a service outage can be more than an annoyance when critical business activities are disrupted.
A recent disaster recovery survey found that 79% of midsized businesses and 87% of large businesses had experienced one or more service outages in the past year. Even more shocking is that 27% of companies lost money due to service outages, and 31% of those reported losses in excess of $100,000.
What is Cloud Disaster Recovery?
Unlike traditional DR, cloud disaster recovery uses cloud-based technology to automate failover to the cloud, rapidly restore IT infrastructure, and prevent costly service outages.
This approach reduces or eliminates capital expenses in secondary site data center real estate and hardware and associated operating expenses. With cloud-based DR, companies pay only for the resources they are using – meaning you don’t pay for the compute resources needed for failover until you need it.
In the past, organizations with the goal of increasing their resiliency against disasters would bear the significant up-front cost of building a remote disaster recovery (DR) site. Today, cloud-based disaster recovery provides a high-performance alternative that is flexible and cost-effective – and businesses everywhere are taking notice.
In this blog, we explain all the basics of cloud disaster recovery. You will learn how cloud disaster recovery differs from the traditional model, why disaster recovery is so important to your business and how you can implement your own cloud disaster recovery plan with help from Faction and our partners.
How Does Cloud Disaster Recovery Differ from Traditional Disaster Recovery?
With cloud disaster recovery, organizations of all sizes can achieve rapid and cost-effective failover by combining tools from public cloud providers like AWS and third-party vendors like Faction.
A great example is the AWS Elastic Load Balancer that automatically distributes incoming application traffic according to pre-set rules and across multiple availability zones. IT organizations can leverage this powerful functionality to replace their on-premise load-balancer and seamlessly failover on-premise applications to VMware virtual machines in the cloud. They can also deploy an attached cloud storage like Faction Cloud Control Volumes to quickly scale up storage availability for business-critical loads.
Why Cloud Disaster Recovery is Crucial for Your Business
While 95% of business respondents in a recent survey currently have a disaster recovery plan in place, many are lacking coverage in key areas and 23% admit their disaster plan has never been tested.
Without a solid disaster recovery plan and solution in place, your business faces tremendous risk and uncertainty in the face of a cyberattack, data loss event, power outage or natural disaster.
Safeguard your business with a solid DR solution to:
I. Avoid Revenue Losses
According to Gartner, the average cost of network downtime can be pegged at $5,600 per minute. In practice, every business is impacted differently by service outages, so results may vary. Still, if your business depends on the availability of IT infrastructures to process customer transactions, you could be losing revenue for every minute your systems are down.
II. Retain Customer Trust
Your customers are depending on you to provide a service. When your servers and applications are unavailable, that service is not being provided and your customers may take their business elsewhere. If you experience frequent downtime, you could earn a reputation for being unreliable that may adversely impact your market viability.
III. Ensure Business Survival
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), forty percent of small businesses never reopen after a natural disaster and an additional 25% close within a year. Without an adequate disaster recovery plan, a major data loss event could simply annihilate your business and leave you with no option but to close for good.
To avoid these negative outcomes and protect your business, you need a cloud disaster recovery plan that helps you restore your most critical services as soon as possible when disaster strikes.
Five Benefits of Having a DR Strategy in Place
You read about it all the time – outages happen and take companies down for minutes, hours, and sometimes days or even shut them down completely. This kind of threat is something that although cannot be avoided 100% of the time, it’s definitely something you can plan for.
Think of Disaster Recovery like you would an insurance policy: a smart (and necessary) move, although it may be an expense you aren’t thrilled about. It serves a great purpose, and if disaster ever does strike – you’ll be glad you decided to move forward with implementing DR.
Having a plan in place to handle disruptive incidents could be the difference between being offline for a brief amount of time, versus a detrimental length of time.
Disruptive incidents can be anything that puts an organization’s operations at risk, such as:
- Loss of personnel
- Loss of facilities
- Loss of access to data or applications
- Equipment failure
- Natural disasters
- Cyberattacks (ransomware)
So why should you consider implementing a DR strategy? Let’s review five benefits of having a DR strategy in place.
- Mitigating risk, such as snapshots or mirror copy failure & corruption, human error, hardware failure or poorly documented communication.
- Minimizing downtime: keeping your business online!
- Insuring against natural disasters by having geographic diversity: storing copies of your data in several locations.
- Having the ability to withstand human error or physical impact on a production environment.
- Limit the effect on business or downstream customers.
What is an IT Disaster Recovery Plan?
Disaster recovery is a plan, set of processes, policies, and tools that enables organizations to restore business and IT operations following a business continuity disaster.
Disasters that interrupt business continuity and cost organizations time and revenue include:
I. Natural Disasters
Natural disasters include hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and any other natural phenomenon or weather pattern that could damage your data center and disrupt service.
II. Technological Disasters
Technological disasters include power outages and internet outages that impact service availability. Hardware failure, third-party vendor outages, and hardware destruction are also among the leading causes of disruptive service outages for businesses.
III. Man-Made Disasters
A system administrator mistakenly deletes a critical file or database, a disgruntled former employee sabotages your IT systems, or a cyber attacker disrupts your operations with a DDoS attack. Man-made disasters can be either intentional or accidental.
Disaster recovery emerged as a business process during the late 1970s, with IT managers recognizing the increasingly vital role of IT services within their organizations. Today, most business-critical activities and data depend on the availability of IT systems. When these systems experience outages, employees are unable to do their jobs, customers are unable to place orders, and trust is lost.
Disaster recovery traditionally requires additional expenses for real estate, staffing, hardware and software, networking equipment, testing, and maintenance. For businesses that cannot tolerate any downtime, the historically best-practice approach would be to construct a second data center in a separate geographical location. This would create geographical redundancy, such that a technological or natural disaster impacting one data center might not impact the other. These dual data centers would be run in parallel with real-time data mirroring and synchronization to ensure minimal or even zero data loss in the event of a service disruption.
How to Design a Cloud Disaster Recovery Plan
1. Conduct Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
The purpose of a business impact analysis is to assess the overall risk that your organization could face from a service outage or disaster event. Conduct a BIA by identifying all your applications and components, then grouping them into tiers based on their importance to your business. The higher the tier, the more quickly the applications must be restored. Organizations must strategically allocate their disaster recovery resources to ensure that the most critical resources are restored first and restored fast. At the same time, designating less important applications into higher tiers will incur unnecessary costs.
2. Establish Service Level Agreement (SLA) Definitions
An SLA is a performance target for your cloud disaster recovery plan. Different components of your IT infrastructure can have their own SLAs depending on how critical they are to business activities. The two most common SLAs for disaster recovery are:
a. Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
The maximum amount of application downtime permitted in a disaster event.
b. Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
The maximum time period of data loss from an IT service due to a service disruption.
Cloud-based DR can restore customer’s agreed-upon mission-critical applications with an RPO and RTO of less than 15 minutes. Other workloads can be restored within 1-8 hours depending on the customer’s needs and the workload classification.
3. Define Control Measures
There are five types of controls that can be used to cope with disasters:
Preventive measures are used to avoid or prevent disasters before they occur.
Protective measures are used to safeguard systems and prevent damage or data loss in the event of a service outage.
Mitigation measures reduce the severity of a service outage that is already affecting system availability.
Response procedures for disaster recovery detail the steps that will be taken to restore service once a disaster has been identified, including shifting workloads to the cloud.
Recovery procedures are used to restore operations from your failover environment back to the primary environment., a process known as failback in disaster recovery lingo.
4. Assign Roles and Responsibilities
At this point, you should have identified all applications and components of your IT infrastructure and defined SLAs and control measures for each application. The next step is to assign roles and responsibilities – whose job is it to implement those control measures?
Organizations do not necessarily have to rely on internal knowledge and expertise to manage the complexity of cloud disaster recovery. With vendors like Faction offering Hybrid Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS), organizations can reap the benefits of fully managed disaster recovery service without the added technical overhead.
5. Testing, Training, and Maintenance
Regular testing is required to ensure that cloud disaster recovery protocols function as planned and consistently meet SLAs for critical applications. IT organizations should perform quarterly or biannual tests to verify that the performance of disaster recovery systems is aligned with business needs.
DRaaS or DIY, which DR solution is right for you?
Are you trying to determine which route is best for your organization when it comes to Disaster Recovery? Chances are you have evaluated a variety of solutions available in the market and it really comes down deciding which direction is better for your organization:
- Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) OR
- DIY Disaster Recovery solution
Each option has its own benefits and challenges, coming to a decision depends on budget, skill set and business objectives. Let’s take a closer look at both DRaaS and DIY DR.
DRaaS is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide failover in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. A true DRaaS solution should include the following:
- Assessment of your environment to determine workload protection groups
- Replication to a second site (cloud)
- A complete runbook for your recovery operations, including documented detailed recovery procedures
- Testing to ensure the plan works according to the RTO and RPO your organization has set
So, what are the benefits of Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service?
- Cost savings
- No huge upfront costs, unlike DIY DR (hardware, licensing, colo)
- A more manageable monthly payment
- Professional and managed services provided by a team of experts to ensure the best solution for your organization
- Recovery is fast and automated
- Depending on your choice of vendor, pay for only what you use in a DR event (eliminate unused capacity)*
Are there challenges that come with selecting DRaaS as your solution?
- Data transfer costs (egress fees) – but that’s only if a disaster takes place
- Clarifying SLA’s – make sure that you clearly communicate your RPO and RTO with your provider and understand whether or not it matches up with their SLA
DIY Disaster Recovery is taking on all of the responsibilities that are part of building, implementing, and maintaining a DR solution. It involves building and maintaining a separate datacenter so you have a copy of your data stored in the event of a disaster. It is often argued that benefits of going the DIY route include:
- Owning all the expertise, equipment and tools necessary
- Not having to rely on an outside organization for DR
If you take this approach then you must embrace these challenges:
- Document the entire process and communicate it to key stakeholders so that the organization knows what to do if an incident occurs
- Monitor 24/7 and account for any changes in your environment that may happen in the future (ie. capacity)
- Ensure compliance is met per the guidelines of your industry or organization, and keep it updated
- Test regularly and ensure you can execute a recovery in order to meet RTO and RPO standards of your organization
- Have the appropriate employees who possess the skill sets needed to carry out the DIY solution in the event that you need to recover your data
A common misconception of DIY DR is that you’ll save money because you aren’t paying someone else to take care of it for you. However, when you consider all of the unused capacity in a DIY solution, the cost to set up, maintain and test everything yourself, it may end up costing you more money instead of saving you money. Keep in mind that with a DIY approach you also sacrifice scalability and flexibility.
How Faction’s Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery Can Protect Your Business
Faction offers cloud disaster recovery solutions to help businesses safeguard their IT and application infrastructure against disruptive service outages.
Ready to learn more?
Or watch our cloud disaster recovery webinar where we explained exactly how your business can start using AWS and VMware cloud to execute on your organization’s cloud disaster recovery plan.
View Webinar: Navigating Disaster Recovery with VMware Cloud on AWS